The New York Yankees need to remove Aroldis Chapman from the closer role. The hard-throwing Cuban lefty has not been himself all season long and is now at a point where he cannot be trusted to finish games, and even local media in The New York Post and The New York Daily News appear to think so too.
This past weekend was especially rough for Chapman. He picked up a save and also blew one in two appearances against the rival Boston Red Sox, allowing three earned runs and walking four in 2.1 innings of work. He has just four blown saves on the year but is one away from tying his career high set in 2011 and 2012 with the Cincinnati Reds.
His reasons for struggling are his own, but the Yankees are in a position where every game counts. That means exploring new options in the ninth inning.
In defense of the fireballer
To be fair, this is not the Chapman the Yankees thought they were reacquiring in the offseason. The big lefty first arrived in New York via a trade last season and did well despite a 30-game suspension due to a domestic violence issue. He posted a 2.01 ERA and 20 saves in 31 games for the Yankees before being dealt to the Chicago Cubs at the trade deadline, ultimately finishing the year with a 1.55 ERA, 36 saves and a World Series title.
He logged 15.2 innings in the postseason and was overused by Cubs manager Joe Maddon, most notably when he threw 1.1 innings in Game 6 as Chicago led 7-2. He entered that game in the seventh inning and didn’t pitch in the ninth. Chapman even told reporters in December that Maddon overused him in the playoffs, and it’s highly possible that logging all of those innings last year contributed to a shoulder injury that cost him a month of action this year.
That said, perhaps this is just an off year for Chapman and he’ll bounce back next season, especially after signing a five-year, $86 million contract to return to the Bronx in the offseason.
The Yankees’ other options
The good news for the Yankees is that in spite of Chapman’s struggles, the team’s bullpen is probably its greatest strength. There are several arms there who could take over ninth-inning duties, namely hard-throwing righty Dellin Betances and former closer David Robertson, who made his New York return as part of the Todd Frazier trade.
Now consider Chapman’s numbers for the year. His 3.48 ERA and 1.31 WHIP are the worst he has posted since 2011 (3.60 ERA, 1.30 WHIP). His BABIP is a horribly unlucky .342. A broadcaster recently noted that on top of a drop in velocity this year, opposing hitters just aren’t swinging at his slider as much anymore. This would explain his career-worst swinging strike percentage of 12.7% this season.
That all being said, manager Joe Girardi has to throw his loyalties to Chapman out the window and take him out of the spotlight, be it for a week or the rest of the season.
Shutting Chapman down for the season also warrants consideration. He can be placed on the disabled list with “tired arm,” or something similar, and then spend the rest of the season getting some much-needed rest. In fact, if this approach is taken, it may be a good idea if he didn’t throw again until spring training. The odds of this happening are slim, but it’s something to talk about even just as an idea.
The fact of the matter is that the man isn’t going to be traded, nor should he be. The Chapman this year is not the one who became a household name just a few years ago, and he deserves a second chance.
For the rest of 2017, however, and for the good of the New York Yankees, Chapman needs to get out of the closer’s role, and fast.
Want to share your opinion? Why not Write For Us?