Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Joba Chamberlain Takes Page from Sam McDowell

Yankees starter Joba Chamberlain -- with his promising form of two years ago still eluding him -- has taken a page from the life of former major league strikeout artist "Sudden" Sam McDowell.

Perhaps he should put the page back.

Under the watchful eye of pitching coach Dave Eiland, the 23-year-old Chamberlain has been expending maximum effort by heaving about a dozen, 80-yard longballs from the outfield to backup catcher Francisco Cervelli as part of his pre-start warmup throws. As demonstrated by McDowell, who played for the Yankees in 1973-'74, the practice stretches the muscles and tires the arm to help reduce overthrowing during the game.

The problem is that it worked for McDowell, but not for Chamberlain, if there's any indication in Chamberlain's last outing versus the Mets, when he he hit two batters and walked five in the process of throwing 100 pitches before being yanked at the end of the fourth inning.

Watching Chamberlain warm up from the outfield, it's a wonder he has anything left for the game. Like McDowell, however, who won 20 games for the Indians in 1970, Chamberlain was in effectively wild in the outing, giving up only one hit as the Yankees went on to win the 9-8 thriller.

Speculation continues to mount that unless Chamberlain finds himself soon, he may be found back in the bullpen, which would be a severe setback in his development but potentially a practical necessity for the Yankees if the team is to remain at the top of the American League Eastern Divison.

Phil Hughes is waiting in the wings.