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06/10/08 10:01 AM ET
Roundtable: In fantasy, Joba rules elusive
Experts' opinions on Chamberlain's immediate future decidedly mixed
Joba Chamberlain has allowed three earned runs and fanned eight in 6 1/3 innings through two starts. (AP)

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How should owners approach Joba Chamberlain? If you have him, do you look to sell? And if you don't, is he worth the investment? MLB.com's fantasy gurus offer their take in this week's edition of the Roundtable.

Thumbs up

Buy now

Trading Joba now would be sheer folly, since he has yet to establish his full value as a starter, which he will do soon enough. Even including his bumpy first two starts, Joba's career professional numbers are awe-inspiring: 12-4 with a 2.14 ERA, a 1.02 WHIP and 207 strikeouts in 142 2/3 innings. The Joba rules will be retired after two or three more starts of limited pitch counts, after which he should be a prolific source of strikeouts and solid win totals thanks to the revitalized Yankees offense. Now's the time to buy, not sell.

-- Cory Schwartz, Host, "MLB.com Fantasy 411"

Invest

Expecting a 22-year-old pitcher to hold down a big league rotation spot is already asking a lot. Expecting a 22-year-old pitcher to become an overnight ace, save the Yankees pitching staff and dominate American League lineups is asking for too much. Which is exactly why now is the best time to target Joba -- while he's human. Joba has anchorman potential, evidenced by his remarkable Minor League run (2.45 ERA, 135 Ks, 27 BB, 88 1/3 IP). It just might take longer than a New York minute to get there.

-- Alex Cushing, Reporter, MLB.com Fantasy

I see Chamberlain as a worthwhile investment. If anything, after his first two lackluster starts, he is a buy-low candidate. And buy low I would. This is the same guy who was lights-out as a reliever last year (0.38 ERA, 34 Ks in 24 IP) and, perhaps more impressively, found himself tangled in a triangle match with Goose Gossage and David Dellucci. So expect Joba to steadily improve, as his conversion from starter to reliever back to starter is still in its infantile stages.

-- Dave Feldman, Reporter, MLB.com Fantasy

Neutral

Explore the market

Owners in keeper formats will definitely want to hold onto Chamberlain, as pitchers who reach 100 mph don't grow on trees. However, the fact remains that he's a 22-year-old who made just 15 Minor League starts (and three relief appearances) before getting called up last season. For all his ability, Chamberlain's inexperience will likely lead to a few rough outings as he adjusts to facing big league batters multiple times in each outing. He could still wind up helping out in mixed formats, but it's worth dangling him on the trade market to see what an overzealous Yankees fan in your league will pay for him.

-- Tim Ott, Reporter, MLB.com Fantasy

Stay put

The deal with Chamberlin is that people expected him to be an ace the second he became a starter. His next start should see him throw 90-100 pitches. He has more than a strikeout per inning, but the walks need to come down. Unless you can get him for cheap or sell extremely high on him, you just enjoy the fact you have him. He was owned in 99 percent of leagues anyway, so it's not like he was on the wires. This situation has been handled oddly by the Yankees, but it's a bigger issue on the back page of the tabloids then it is in fantasy.

-- Mike Siano, Host, "MLB.com Fantasy 411"

I've owned Joba Chamberlain in my 12-team mixed league since draft day and have no intention of getting rid of him. Sure, he hasn't exactly shined since joining the rotation, but his upside is way too high to trade him at his market value right now. Unless there is an owner in your league who covets Joba and is willing to pay more than top dollar for him, it would be foolish to part with the flamethrower before his value as a starter has been determined. At the same time, it would be unwise to attempt to acquire Chamberlain unless an owner isn't looking to get much in return, which isn't a likely scenario.

-- Matt Kerner, Reporter, MLB.com Fantasy

I wouldn't recommend selling high on Joba, since he'll still fan batters at an impressive rate. He has 38 strikeouts in 30 1/3 innings this year, including eight strikeouts over 6 2/3 frames in his two starts. Owners shouldn't chase wins, but Joba will have good enough run support from a dangerous Yankees offense to record 8-10 victories the rest of the way. I wouldn't target him in a trade, though, as his owner will likely want too much in return for a player whose star is a little brighter because he plays for the Yankees.

-- Kyle Stack, Reporter, MLB.com Fantasy

Chamberlain went 9-2 in the Minors, whiffing 135 batters and posting a 2.45 ERA over 88 1/3 innings, but that was the Minors. He obviously has tons of potential, but he's been erratic in two starts thus far for the big club. If you're looking to trade for him, don't. Anyone who's got him will want an arm and a leg, and you don't need to lose appendages for a guy with a ceiling on innings pitched. It's not a buyer's or seller's market. The best thing to do is to stay put.

-- Milosh Marinovich, Reporter, MLB.com Fantasy

Thumbs down

Don't buy

Don't get me wrong, I'm a Joba guy -- he throws gas, he's undeniably clutch and he's oozing with that Jonathan Papelbon fire that most young hurlers can only feign. From a fantasy standpoint, though, I think he's a year away. Hank Steinbrenner's ultra-capitalist sense of urgency has forced the stud righty into an awkwardly accelerated transition from the 'pen, and he's looked less than comfortable in his first two starts (3 ER, 6 H, 5 BB, 140 pitches in 6 2/3 IP). Stifle the urge to buy big on Chamberlain, who will likely spend the next few months battling adjustment issues a la Adam Wainwright in early '07.

-- Corey Gottlieb, Reporter, MLB.com Fantasy

Sell now

Inserting Joba Chamberlain into the starting rotation was a desperation move on the part of the Yankees, as the other young arms have not panned out as well as the club would've liked. Making this kind of transition in season is not only taxing, it also puts an inordinate amount of pressure on Joba, who thrived in his setup role after the Yankees called him up last August. Move him ASAP and get as much as you can out of him, as he won't be as valuable in a starting role as he was out of the bullpen, at least in 2008.

-- Matt Chaprales, Reporter, MLB.com Fantasy

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.