Although the free-spending New York Yankees added high-priced free agents CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett in the offseason, they are eventually expecting just as much from one of their homegrown starters - Joba Chamberlain.
Chamberlain makes his season debut Sunday for the Yankees when they try to complete a three-game sweep of the Kansas City Royals.
There was plenty of attention surrounding the decision by New York (3-2) to move Chamberlain into the rotation last June after he was so successful as a setup man. He had a 2.28 ERA in 20 appearances out of the bullpen when the Yankees opted to try to give their depleted rotation a boost.
Although the 23-year-old right-hander struggled to get lengthened out in his first few starts, he eventually proved he could be effective as a starter, going 3-1 with a 2.76 ERA in 12 starts before moving back to the bullpen.
It has been an eventful past few months for Chamberlain. He pleaded guilty to a DUI charge that occurred in his hometown of Lincoln, Neb. on Oct. 18 and he struggled to provide innings in his spring outings.
His longest effort of the spring was last Sunday when he allowed two runs and two hits over 5 1-3 innings pitching for Double-A Trenton in a camp game against Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
“I’m excited to get going,” Chamberlain said.
His second career start came at home against Kansas City (2-3) on June 8, when he allowed three runs over 4 1-3 innings in a 6-3 victory. Chamberlain has made two appearances out of the bullpen at Kauffman Stadium, yielding four hits over 3 1-3 scoreless innings.
New York won its third straight Saturday as Sabathia bounced back from an awful outing in his Yankees debut with 7 2-3 scoreless innings in a 6-1 victory.
Nick Swisher, subbing for an injured Mark Teixeira, continued his strong start to the season by driving in three runs and scoring three times. Swisher is 7-for-13 with a team-high nine RBIs - all in his last three games.
“Get to hit in the three-hole for the New York Yankees! I was real excited about that,” Swisher said. “This just feels great. I’m coming to the ballpark every day with the mindset I want to do whatever I can to help the team.”
Teixeira was removed from the lineup shortly before Saturday’s game with a sore left wrist. He’s day to day.
Kansas City starter Gil Meche (0-0, 1.29) was outstanding in his 2009 debut, but did not get anything to show for it. He allowed one run over seven innings and did not issue a walk in a 4-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday.
Meche threw 91 pitches and staked the Royals to a 2-1 lead before manager Trey Hillman turned to the bullpen.
“I felt good enough to go back out and I told ‘em that, but you’ve got some guys down there who’ve done it before,” Meche told the Royals’ official Web site.
Meche is 0-2 with a 4.75 ERA in his last six starts against the Yankees. He’s 3-4 with a 4.38 ERA against them overall in 13 outings.
Yankees captain Derek Jeter is hitting .344 (11-for-32) in his career versus Meche.