Once ticketed for big things, current Detroit Tigers’ reliever Joba Chamberlain has flown under the radar this season in Detroit.
But that doesn’t mean that Chamberlain won’t be fantasy relevant before long.
Tigers’ closer Joe Nathan continues to look very shaky and while Chamberlain keeps getting the job done, you have to wonder if Tigers’ manager Brad Ausmus could consider making a change if Nathan starts to falter.
For that reason alone if you own Nathan I would make sure you handcuff him with Chamberlain, if you haven’t done so already. If you aren’t an owner of Nathan, I would consider picking up Chamberlain now if you have a bit of roster flexibility.
Nathan picked up his 13th save of the season on Thursday against the Oakland A’s, but the 39-year old allowed two earned runs on three hits and one walk in an inning of work, just one day after allowing a dramatic walk-off homer.
Nathan’s velocity is down, which should have you very concerned as he is barely topping out at 92 MPH. That has led to a big drop in his strikeout rate (29% to 23%).
Look more closely and you will find that Nathan is now a league average pitcher in terms of swinging-strike rate.
With four blown saves already this season, you have to wonder how long his leash will be.
Detroit is a team that is built to win now and if Nathan continues to struggle, Ausmus can’t wait too long to make a change.
Chamberlain picked up his 11th hold in a scoreless eighth on Thursday and has been very solid in May.
The former Yankee has a solid 2.82 ERA in 24 appearances and has 27 punch outs in 22.1 innings pitched. Even better is that Chamberlain has allowed only two earned runs this month and has a very impressive 1.50 ERA in the month of May, recovering nicely after a slow start to the season.
Nathan owners will want to handcuff immediately just in case.