Aroldis Chapman, the dominant New York Yankees closer, has not pitched in a game since May 12. He was placed on the 10-day disabled list due to shoulder inflammation and is set to begin rehabbing with the team’s Double-A affiliate today.
The loss of a closer can hurt almost any team, but the Yankees bullpen was believed to be better suited to survive than most.
Their pen, especially in the back-end, was stacked. Dellin Betances was set to fill-in at closer, which he has experience doing, and former closer Tyler Clippard was slotted into the setup man role. Essentially, every man was forced one position deeper into the game.
The Yankees Bullpen Really Misses Aroldis Chapman
The Pen, Minus Chapman
Betances, who was inconsistent in his time as the team’s closer after last season’s trade deadline, has been phenomenal. He certainly hasn’t been flawless, as he—like his predecessor David Robertson—tends to have a penchant for working into and out of trouble, but he has not let the squad down.
Betances has not allowed an earned run since his second appearance of the season, which was his lone blown save and loss. Since Chapman has left, he has combined to throw 10 shutout innings in 10 games. Along the way the homegrown fireballer has struck out 16 batters and only allowed seven batters to reach base.
Clippard on the other hand, has struggled as of late. Unlike Betances, Clippard’s most successful days are behind him and didn’t come in pinstripes.
Clippard has blown two saves and suffered two losses since May 14. He’s allowed five earned runs in 12 innings pitched, over the course of 13 appearances. Perhaps the fatigue of working 13 games in a little over a month is getting to the 32-year-old reliever.
He’s pitched in 30 games through the Yanks first 64 games, which puts him on pace to pitch in nearly 76 games—his most games since the 2010 season.
Adam Warren began the season on an unsustainable hot streak. As of May 11, Warren was pitching to a 0.47 ERA—or one earned run in 19 innings. Since then, he has allowed seven earned runs in 13.1 innings.
The bright side is that through his last eight outings, or eight combined innings, Warren has not given up an earned run. Manager Joe Girardi has cut back on his use of his solid middle reliever, if nothing more than to avoid tiring him out before the games gain true importance.
Chasen Shreve, who seemed lost during his stint in the big leagues last season, has been a revelation for the Yanks this year. He’s also been a fairly reliable lefty for manager Joe Girardi.
Shreve, who debuted a new windup this season and a rediscovered splitter, has a 1.47 ERA this season. Since Chapman was sidelined, he has allowed three earned runs in 11 innings.
While Shreve was credited with the loss for the second game of the Yanks series with the Los Angeles Angels, he was pulled from the game before the go-ahead run was scored. This might be meaningless to some, but he wasn’t given the chance to work out of the jam he got himself into—a situation Yankees fans have gotten used to seeing their closers work into and out of, fairly routinely, over the years.
Shreve’s bounce-back season also allowed the Yanks to outright struggling lefty Tommy Layne to the minor leagues, in an attempt to give some young arms their shot at the show. The young arms in the pen have not been the best, to say the least.
Young Arms and Inconsistency
Chad Green, called up as a result of the Chapman injury, has had a 2.70 ERA in nine appearances. He also made a pseudo-“spot start” this past Sunday, since he was held to a strict 50-pitch, pitch count.
Green’s stuff is major league quality, but his location is inconsistent and he appears to lose confidence at times. Hence, he can help at times but can’t be relied upon too heavily at this point in his career.
Giovanny Gallegos, another youngster who has seemed overwhelmed at times and impressive at others, was “responsible” for Thursday’s late-inning loss.
Whether or not Starlin Castro should have caught the ball which allowed the Oakland Athletics to walk-off is up for debate, but the box score will say that he allowed two runs and earned the loss no matter what. Gallegos has not been nearly good enough to merit a consistent major league spot, but the current injury climate has mandated that he be thrust into duty.
Domingo German, who made just one appearance, showed great promise. German’s raw talent was apparent, but he needs more time to become a legitimate, polished pitcher.
Ben Heller, a pitching prospect acquired in the Andrew Miller deal last season, underwhelmed for the most part last season. In his one shot thus far this year, he faced just three batters and recorded just one out before Girardi was forced to pull the plug.
Will Chapman Really Fix it All?
Chapman certainly won’t make the Yankees drive in every runner in scoring position, nor will he help Masahiro Tanaka become the ace he was last season; but he will put the ninth inning on lock.
Chapman’s return will allow Betances to go back to dominating the eighth as well as allowing a struggling Clippard to work in some lower pressure situations. This will shorten the game to seven innings, with the eighth and ninth becoming the formality that they were during April.
Furthermore, it will allow Girardi to use his youngsters in more suitable situations, rather than having to force them into action which they are likely not ready for.