1. Maintaining a “Set Closer” as Bullpen Thins
If the matchup dictates it, use Aroldis Chapman in the seventh inning. Close with Chad Green. Use Clay Holmes as a multi-inning buzzsaw. Do anything other than use Jonathan Loaisiga’s unfortunate absence as an excuse to name Chapman the official, all-caps CLOSER without context.
For years, the Yankees have been unreasonably rigid with their ‘pen usage; no matter how much he’s struggled, Chapman has been their de facto closer, except for a one-week demotion earlier this summer. Without Loaisiga for at least 15-ish days, Boone will surely be tempted to call the ninth inning a wash, then dedicate the rest of his time to figuring out the sixth, seventh and eighth. He can’t do that.
If the heart of the lineup is due in the eighth inning of a one-run game, the newly-upright Chapman had better strap in. If the ninth seems simpler, anyone from Wandy Peralta to Joely Rodriguez could be called upon. Holmes has been outright special, dotting 99 on corners since arriving from Pittsburgh, and can probably be pushed a bit further at this point.
Of course, the more hopeful solution involves the Yanks playing fewer close games, but … we all know that’s not happening. Green has faltered in big moments this year because he’s been used in, I want to say, 750 high-leverage appearances. We’re as worried as anyone about bullpen arms tiring out this season, but if not now … when? It’s time for Boone to get creative and push the limits of his relievers’ readiness, not recede into early-90s closer stereotypes. There’s no cushion here, and there’s no lasagna-flavored savior en route.