Yesterday, the Kansas City Royals made another series of roster moves, as they brought up Joba Chamberlain and Louis Coleman. To make room for both players, the Royals designated both Yohan Pino and Dusty Coleman for assignment.
Normally, a move for an extra couple of bullpen arms during September would not be that interesting. However, the addition of Chamberlain, a pitcher who has tantalized with his potential in the past, is certainly interesting. Could the Royals and Dave Eiland, who has managed to work his magic on pitchers like Ryan Madson and turn journeymen into viable major league assets, find something with Chamberlain over the last few weeks?
Chamberlain has had flashes of success during his career. While he may be prone to the occasional implosion, Chamberlain does have a career 3.82 ERA and a 1.384 WHiP, numbers that are not entirely terrible. In fact, Chamberlain has a career ERA+ of 114, so he has been an above average major league pitcher throughout his career.
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However, it is the last four years that have been a concern for Joba Chamberlain. Even if his relatively solid 2014 season is included, Chamberlain has produced a 4.14 ERA, a number that seems incredible given his 1.510 WHiP. This year, Chamberlain posted a 4.09 WHiP for the Detroit Tigers, but had a 1.682 WHiP and struck out only 15 batters in 22 innings. Even with the Tigers in constant need of bullpen help, it is no surprise that he was sent packing.
While the hope may be that the Royals can find some way to turn Chamberlain around, there may be a minimal chance of that happening. In 15 games at AAA, for both the Toronto Blue Jays and the Royals, Chamberlain posted a 9.75 ERA and a 2.167 WHiP. Even though these numbers are inflated from his disastrous stint in the Blue Jays system, Chamberlain’s 6.43 ERA and 1.875 WHiP at Omaha are not exactly a cause for celebration.
Perhaps the Royals are focusing on the positives from Chamberlain’s time in Omaha. In seven innings, he struck out nine batters and appeared to rediscover his control, allowing only two walks. Considering there are not many silver linings to Chamberlain’s time in the minors this season, that improved control may well be what the Royals are hanging their hats on.
Chances are, the only way that Joba Chamberlain pitches for the Kansas City Royals would be if they found themselves in the midst of a blowout and wanted to conserve their bullpen. Still, one has to wonder if maybe, just maybe, the Royals could find themselves with another successful reclamation project.