The New York Yankees recently promoted 21-year-old Joba Chamberlain to the big league club. Chamberlain, a supplemental first-round pick in 2006, started the year with the Tampa club in the A-ball Florida State League. He dominated three levels of the minors, striking out 135 batters in 88 1/3 innings before earning a promotion to the majors on August 7th.
Chamberlain has made three appearances for New York, throwing five scoreless innings, allowing one hit and two walks, and striking out eight. He was a starting pitcher in the minors but is currently serving as the setup man for closer Mariano Rivera in the Yankees’ bullpen.
So far, he has only made one appearance in a stadium equipped with the PITCHf/x camera tracking system, this on August 10th in Cleveland. In a two-inning stint, he mowed down the Indians–six up, six down.
But what pitches did he throw? Mostly fastballs and sliders, showing the slider more to lefties than to righties. His fastball ran 95-99 mph, and his slider sat at 86-88 mph with a 3-inch break in toward a left-handed batter. He also tossed a couple of what appear to me to be change-ups, at 82-84 mph, with an 8-inch break away from a left-handed batter. (The movement on those pitches is quite different than his fastball, but it’s breaking the wrong way to be a curveball.)
The chart below shows the pitch speed versus horizontal break in inches, as seen from the catcher’s perspective.
If we had more data, we could look at which pitch he was using as his strikeout pitch (the slider in all four cases in Cleveland), what pitch he favored in different counts, or to lefties versus righties, or how he locates different pitches. However, with data for only 21 pitches, there’s not much of significance to be gathered along those avenues at this time.
Note: Here is an updated analysis of Joba Chamberlain.