The New York Yankees have had a closer problem for the better part of two months, as de facto shutdown man Aroldis Chapman has fallen off a cliff since his historic start to the year.
Since June 21, Chapman, who’s currently on the injured list with shoulder inflammation, has managed a 7.30 ERA, 14 walks and a 1.86 WHIP over 12.1 innings of work.
With Chapman currently out of commission, the Yankees have rolled with Zack Britton as their closer, with Chad Green (more on him in a second) getting the occasional opportunity here and there.
After Britton’s latest meltdown, which came in the Field of Dreams Game on Thursday when he surrendered a walk-off two-run home run to Tim Anderson, however, he admitted to Aaron Boone that he doesn’t deserve to be closing games.
When that news broke, fans immediately appointed Jonathan Loaisiga as the closer. Amazingly enough, Loaisiga rewarded their faith with a Houdini act on Saturday.
Called into action with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth inning with the score knotted up at three, Loaisiga somehow danced his way out of trouble.
Jonathan Loaisiga needs to become the Yankees closer.
Yankees fans have been preaching Loaisiga’s gospel for months now, but Boone and Co., for reasons we’ll never understand, refuse to deploy him as the closer.
We get it, alright. If Boone hadn’t used Loaisiga in the sixth, there’s no telling what Chicago’s loaded lineup would’ve done. They could’ve broken the game open, so there’s something to be said for using your best reliever in a do-or-die situation.
However, the Yankees have blown far too many games with their supposed “closer” looking to shut the door. Chapman has four blown saves, but could have at least five more more. Britton has two in his last three chances (and nearly had another tonight!) and Green has had his fair share of meltdowns, too.
The one constant, though he hasn’t been perfect, is Loaisiga, who bid the Yankees’ offense enough time before Aaron Judge came through with a solo blast, which had an exit velocity of 114.3 MPH (!), in the top of the eighth to give New York a 4-3 lead.
Unfortunately, the Yankees weren’t able to shut the door after Judge’s attempt to play hero.
Boone asked Green to record a five-out save and the 30-year-old was immaculate…until he hung a 3-2 breaking ball to Jose Abreu, who responded accordingly and deposited the pitch over the left field fence to put the White Sox, down to their final strike, right back on level terms.
The Yankees would eventually pull away in the top of the 10th courtesy of a Judge RBI single and a Joey Gallo moonshot two-run home run, but that changes nothing.
The solution to New York’s closer problem has not only been starting them in the face all season, but their other options have all proven to be undeserving of the role.
Making the switch to Loaisiga could help them notch several more wins over the final two months of the campaign as they look to punch their ticket to the postseason. It’s been clear for a while, but never more so than after Saturday night’s extra-inning win.