When the New York Yankees acquired Aroldis Chapman via both trade and free agency, they expected the man who still holds the record for fastest pitch ever thrown in MLB history to be a lockdown closer for years to come.
From 2016 to 2019, he generally realized that vision, posting a 2.33 ERA while striking out 14 batters per nine innings, saving 127 games, and being named an All-Star twice. A midseason trade to the Cubs even helped the Yankees acquire Gleyber Torres. However, some of Chapman’s luster has started to fade.
Despite being named all All-Star, almost assuredly due to the fact that he started off the season unhittable in April, he has become wildly inconsistent of late, leading to relievers like Chad Green and Jonathan Loaisiga to clean up his mess. That security blanket won’t be there for the foreseeable future.
The Yankees placed Loaisiga on the 10-day IL due to a strained rotator cuff. Loaisiga has evolved into the Yankees’ fireman and top option at the end of games when Chapman was ineffective or not healthy. No. 54 needs to step up and turn back the clock with Loaisiga hurt.
The Yankees need a star performance from Aroldis Chapman.
Chapman’s 3.72 ERA might look like someone slightly underperforming, but those numbers often hide the fact that scoreless innings can be fraught with a lack of command and poorly-timed walks. Even if you accept he’ll be throwing a mere 99 instead of 105 consistently, the fact he has walked 33 in 46 innings is a worrying trend.
In Saturday’s loss against the Baltimore Orioles, Chapman did a Rick Vaughn impression whenever he tried to throw his fastball, and when hitters aren’t chasing the frisbee-like slider that he throws, it very rarely lands in the strike zone.
Without Loaisiga, the Yankees need to stress the importance of just settling down and throwing strikes. The Yankees can’t face the possibility of winning in the postseason with no Loaisiga and an ineffective Chapman.
As good as players like Clay Holmes have been, their contributions will be naught but ash if Chapman still can’t slam the door shut.
Given the fact that he just recently saved his 300th career game and has seven total All-Star nods to his name, Chapman is more than capable of holding down the fort.
He was unhittable at times in Cincinnati, put up star numbers with New York, and helped make Chicago a world champion. This should be easy work for someone with his resume, but as he’s proven this year, even tasks that look simple can end up causing him plenty of difficulties.