Yankees: Aroldis Chapman’s postseason woes could disappear with return of fastball

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 08: Aroldis Chapman #54 of the New York Yankees in action against the Washington Nationals during a game at Yankee Stadium on May 8, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 08: Aroldis Chapman #54 of the New York Yankees in action against the Washington Nationals during a game at Yankee Stadium on May 8, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /
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New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman has been certified unbelievable in 2021. While nobody is surprised he’s still among the best in game, nobody expected this. 

He has a 0.00 ERA. His WHIP is a 0.63. FIP? -0.18. Thirty-six strikeouts in 17 innings. 11 saves in as many attempts.

His new split finger, which he debuted in 2020 but didn’t start using consistently until this year, is a bonafide weapon. Initially, the introduction of that pitch led many of us to believe Chapman would be reinventing himself a bit due to his declining fastball velocity.

But it appears as if that velocity is gradually returning, which could truly elevate Chapman to levels we haven’t seen since the middle of last decade.

Let’s look at Chapman’s fastball velocity over the last five years:

  • 2017: 100.1 MPH
  • 2018: 98.9 MPH
  • 2019: 98.4 MPH
  • 2020: 98.1 MPH
  • 2021: 99.2 MPH

Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman is dialing up the heat.

And a near-103 MPH fastball to end Tuesday night’s game. He’s hitting triple digits more consistently. If he can keep that up, combining that with his splitter could give him the most lethal arsenal he’s ever had in his career. Three pitches and one of them is a 100 MPH heater?

Not to jump ahead too far, but this could really help with Chapman’s previous postseason woes simply going away. Though those “issues” came against the Astros mainly (and Rays last year), if we’re taking Houston’s potential cheating aspect out of it and Tampa’s mental edge over the Bombers, the underlying issue was seemingly Chapman losing his trademark heater.

https://twitter.com/PitchingNinja/status/1394860844949938177?s=20

Chappy now has three different speeds to throw off opposing hitters, which makes him even more dynamic. We have the most evidence of his splitter to date, so let’s see how it’s going:

  • Fastball: 99.2 MPH
  • Slider: 85.4 MPH
  • Splitter: 89.5 MPH

Yeah, ditching the changeup has done wonders. The splitter is more devastating with its movement and when it disappears from the zone, batters are completely fooled when they’re ready to get ahead of the fastball.

Even better? The Yankees dodged a bullet with Zack Britton’s “setback” after he dealt with soreness following his first throwing action since offseason elbow surgery. Think about how much less pressure Chapman will have to deal with when his fellow lefty star is helping anchor the back end of the bullpen.

Good luck with that, Houston.