At the start of the season, Aroldis Chapman was, almost quite literally, unhittable. In his first 23 outings, he had allowed just one earned run, struck out 43 batters (16.8 K/9), and opponents were hitting .097 against him.
But in his last 27 outings (23.0 innings), he has allowed 18 earned runs, and has allowed at least one run in nine of those outings – one-third exactly.
To put it nicely, it’s been a severely inconsistent season from the closer, who was named an All-Star earlier this year.
“Every day I’m out there practicing and looking for that consistency,” Chapman told reporters after he recorded his fourth loss of the year. “You’re trying to be as consistent as you can from one pitch to the next. It’s a consistent work every day, you keep working at it, and keep looking and trying to find that consistency.”
What’s even stranger about Chapman is even when he’s clearly struggling, he still makes hitters look silly sometimes – he has struck out six batters in his last two outings.
“I thought he finished the inning pretty well…” said Aaron Boone. “it was encouraging to see him after that walk where I thought he was losing the strike zone and then even with the next guy where he got maybe behind in the count, I thought he caught himself and corrected and executed some pitches there to finish the inning, which was good to see.”
Boone can say it’s good to see Chapman strike out guys all he wants, but it’s not that clear cut that he is the best option to close games.
Unless you’re the Yankees.
When asked why Chapman is the best ninth-inning option, Boone said, “We’ve seen it.”
After all, Chapman is a seven-time All-Star – he has been to the Midsummer Classic in each of the last three instances (there was no game in 2020).
“After the month-long struggle, overall, it’s been pretty good since then. Obviously, some of the corrections we feel like have taken hold. I feel like before today, I thought his previous two outings but not only strong but really efficient as well, and then today when it started to get a little wobbly there, he was able to corral it, and that’s important moving forward, as well.”
He’s not wrong. Fifteen of those runs since June 10 came in a dreadful six-week span where he allowed runs in six of his 13 appearances – he allowed multiple runs in four of those outings. His ERA in his last 14 outings sits at just 2.03, but he’s facing an average of over four batters per inning, and his WHIP in that span is 1.35. He’s allowed a run in three of his last seven outings.
Saturday marked the second-straight day Chapman pitched, so if necessary, the Yankees will have to go with someone else on Sunday.
But Chapman isn’t expecting to not be the closer any time soon.
“I can tell you this – every day, I enjoy what I do” he said. “I enjoy playing baseball and enjoy my job as a closer. For me, the preparation is key. I have to prepare, I have to work hard at it, and that’s what I’ve been saying. That’s what you have to focus on. You have to focus on your job, the passion of the game, and you have to keep grinding at it.”
Source: Yahoo Sports