Speculation on Saturday afternoon centered around whether or not the Yankees would DFA Aroldis Chapman as soon as the calendar turned to September, preventing him from being scooped up and placed on someone else’s playoff roster as a wild card reclamation project.
Or, perhaps, if the Yankees were feeling less harsh, they’d simply toss a Phantom IL stint his way after everything fell apart in recent weeks.
There was a time in early August when Chapman was “back”; the closer had bizarrely weaseled his way back into high-leverage opportunities after returning from injury with 9.1 three-hit shutout innings across nine outings against competition like the Mets, Red Sox and Mariners.
But then … the wheels fell off. Twice. There’s nearly no margin for error for this team, even with an 8.5-game lead in the AL East, and classic Chapman implosions against the Rays and Jays sent him back to exile. If only there were a way to remove him from the from of Yankees fans’ minds for a bit…
On Saturday, Chapman delivered. Reports emerged that the Yankees were placing their ex-closer on the IL with a leg infection that stemmed from a recent tattoo. Then … the Yankees tweeted out that exact thing. No hiding from the truth. No couching the injury by choosing not to explain the source of the leg infection. Simply … “infected wound from a recent tattoo,” plain and simple.
There’s no coming back from this.
Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman has an infected tattoo on his leg
With one month left in the regular season, the clock is now officially ticking on Chapman’s potential return. That return is probably unwanted by team brass, and an injury is certainly the simplest way to run out said clock.
Chapman’s injury comes so close to Sept. 1 that the Yankees have opted not to replace him. How’s that for a vote of confidence? “You’re going on the IL, and we’re going to bringing in … nobody. We’re better off being short on arms than throwing you out there.”
Add in the ridiculousness of the injury, and burying Chapman further into the distance might be the perfect way to erase his Yankee memory in the final month of his contract.
A recovering Zack Britton went through his own injury scare on Saturday, but is reportedly fine (per the man himself). Fan favorite Stephen Ridings has ramped things up in recent weeks, too.
Adding rookies to the ‘pen for the stretch run could result in some funky debuts and heightened nerves (sorry, Greg Weissert), but Chapman is a known quantity at this point, despite a two-week mirage earlier in August.
And now, he doesn’t have a leg to stand on.