Joba Chamberlain is back. But what is his role going forward?
Chamberlain was activated off the disabled list prior to Tuesday night's loss to the Mets but was not needed, thanks to Hiroki Kuroda's strong seven-inning performance.
On this team, the eighth and ninth innings belong to David Robertson and Mariano Rivera, respectively. The question is, does Chamberlain return to being manager Joe Girardi's primary option in the seventh inning?
Girardi was non-committal on Chamberlain's role, when asked about him prior to Tuesday's game.
"We'll see how we use him right away," Girardi said. "Sometimes when a guy comes back from injury, you kinda want to work him back slowly. We'll see what the opportunity is."
In Chamberlain's absence, the Yankees got strong performances from fellow righties Preston Claiborne and Shawn Kelley. The 25-year-old Claiborne has given up just one run in 13 innings since being called up from Triple-A on May 3. The veteran Kelley, after a rough April, has given up just three runs in 10 appearances in May.
Chamberlain, after giving up four runs in his first two outings of the season, didn't allow another in his next eight appearances prior to going on the disabled list with an oblique injury on May 2. But he did get into that verbal dustup with Rivera in Kansas City.
The Kansas City incident aside, should the Yankees mess with a good thing? Robertson and Rivera have faltered the past two days in Queens, but the middle relievers have been good of late. Perhaps Girardi should keep riding them until they falter as well?
There's room in the bullpen for Chamberlain to be sure. But should he become Girardi's go-to guy in the seventh inning again? That's open for debate.
UP NOW: For the first time in his storied major league career, Mariano Rivera blew a save without recording an out Tuesday night. Ian O'Connor writes on Rivera, and Wallace Matthews breaks down the fateful ninth inning.
ON DECK: Wallace Matthews, Kieran Darcy and Mike Mazzeo will be your ESPNNewYork.com correspondents in the Bronx on Wednesday. David Phelps (3-2, 3.96) will start for the Yankees, opposed by Jeremy Hefner (0-5, 4.76) for the Mets, first pitch at 7:05 p.m.
QUESTION OF THE DAY: What would you do with Joba Chamberlain?