With four days to go until pitchers and catchers ring in spring training, Yankees 101 moves on with its list of eight most interesting Yankees entering 2013.
Yesterday, set-up man David Robertson kept the list going, coming in at number five. With the uncertainty of legendary closer Mariano Rivera coming back after the 2013 season, and moreover, with the departure of Rafael Soriano, Robertson could build a strong enough resume to capture the closer role in 2014.
However, a certain right-handed reliever coming back from an injury-riddled 2012 could ascertain himself as a viable option as well. Joba Chamberlain, who is expected to occupy the seventh inning role this season, as well as re-establish what was once an intimidating presence on the hill, comes in as our number four most interesting Yankee to watch entering 2013.
The 27-year-old native of Nebraska, Chamberlain first burst onto the scene in impressive fashion in 2007, using a predominantly high-90's fastball and impressing in short spurts during late-inning relief. Additionally, the organization used a "Joba Rules" policy, disallowing his use on back-to-back days and attempting to keep his high velocity arm as fresh as possible.
While since then, between stints in the starting rotation and the bullpen, Chamberlain has shown flashes of brilliance, it has still been a wait and see approach in regards to Chamberlain meeting consistency. Furthermore, trips to the disabled list for Tommy John surgery and a devastating ankle injury, suffered in a trampoline accident before the 2012 season, have impeded Chamberlain's progression.
However, with the aforementioned Soriano now a member of the Washington Nationals and Robertson being one piece of the bridge to Rivera, Chamberlain will enter 2013 injury-free and with an opportunity to show his tenacity in late-inning relief.
What makes Chamberlain an interesting Yankee entering 2013? While he avoided arbitration this offseason, he enters 2013 with free agency on the horizon following the season. Simply put, with a clean bill of health and a clear path to a significant late-inning relief opportunity, can Chamberlain flourish?
Moreover, can he flourish to the point where the Yankees decide to bring him back and compete with Robertson for the opportunity to close in 2014?
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