Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Mettle

–noun

1. courage and fortitude: a man of mettle.
2. disposition or temperament: a man of fine mettle.

—Idiom

3. on one's mettle, in the position of being incited to do one's best: The loss of the first round put him on his mettle to win the match.

Last night's start against the Red Sox should put to rest the silly notion of sending Joba Chamberlain to the bullpen. While his night seems rather unimpressive on the whole - 5.2 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 12 K - one must read between the lines to see how important this start was for Chamberlain.

Chamberlain allowed the first five Red Sox hitters to reach base, allowing four runs, prior to recording and out. From that point forward, Chamberlain was light's out, striking out twelve batters (including eight in a row) while allowing only four more baserunners. While that does not negate his horrendous start, it does demonstrate Chamberlain's mettle. That is, he did not allow his struggles to knock him off his game - he settled down and kept the Yankees in the game through six innings, and did so in dominant fashion. This is an important element of any young pitcher's development, and it demonstrates a great deal of maturity that many claim Chamberlain lacks. While I would certainly have preferred him to dominated from start to finish, I cannot help but be encouraged.