Michael Kay suggests Yankees convert Aroldis Chapman to starter

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 09: Aroldis Chapman #54 of the New York Yankees delivers the pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays during the seventh inning in Game Five of the American League Division Series at PETCO Park on October 09, 2020 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 09: Aroldis Chapman #54 of the New York Yankees delivers the pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays during the seventh inning in Game Five of the American League Division Series at PETCO Park on October 09, 2020 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /
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Could the Yankees solve their rotation issues by converting Aroldis Chapman to a starter?

Oh, and you thought we were crazy for suggesting this seven weeks ago?! Well, now it’s reached the mainstream and there’s nothing anybody can do about it!

New York Yankees television broadcaster Michael Kay appeared on MLB Network’s “High Heat” with Chris Russo to talk about the team, and one of the issues that came up was the starting rotation. We can at least all agree on that, right?

What followed? Not so much. There will be a great divide in the discussion about potentially converting Aroldis Chapman to a starter, which is exactly what Kay suggested when discussing how the Yankees can fill their void in the rotation. The crazy part? He actually makes a few great points.

We all saw Zack Britton in the closer role at the start of 2020. He was tremendous. His issues actually began to pop up when he was moved out of the ninth inning when Chapman returned from his COVID-19 diagnosis. Perhaps keeping the lefty as the closer for 2021 and 2022 could be a smart decision.

Secondly, Chapman no longer throws a vaunted fastball. At least not one that is exclusively above and beyond the rest of Major League Baseball. He’s lost velocity on that pitch over the years (which was to be expected), and if he’s not pumping 105 MPH, then he’s lost a lot of his value as the last guy opponents should be facing at the end of games.

Additionally, while he’s never deployed four pitches in the same year, Chapman added a split finger to his arsenal in 2020, which now gives him a fastball (thrown 78.3% of the time in his career), slider (19.3%), changeup (2.3%) and split finger (0.0% — he only threw it 2% of the time in 2020). That four-pitch mix, assuming he continues to brandish his changeup and splitter, could easily translate to the rotation.

And lastly, Chapman began his professional career as a starter before the Cincinnati Reds moved him to a full-time reliever by the time he debuted in 2010. We’ll admit, his career numbers are much better as a closer, especially when you look at his numbers as a starter during his time in the Cuban league.

But the times have changed. Chapman’s fastball no longer differentiates itself as it once did. He’s add a couple of off-speed pitches over the years to likely prepare for that. Now that he has four throwable pitches (he’s actually pretty darn accurate!), a move to the rotation (though very unlikely) seems like it could be a realistic scenario to consider.

Our biggest concern, however, is how much he’ll sweat during a six-inning outing. The mound might actually flood.