After an outstanding first season with the Yankees, Andrew Miller earned the Mariano Rivera Award as the American League’s top reliever.
But Miller will report to spring training next month having lost his closer’s job to newly acquired Aroldis Chapman, Yankees manager Joe Girardi confirmed on Monday night.
Speaking during an appearance on YES Network’s Yankees Hot Stove, Girardi repeated what general manager Brian Cashman had pretty much said when he traded for Chapman on Dec. 28.
The hard-throwing Chapman saved 33 games in 36 opportunities for the Reds and struck out 116 batters in 66 1⁄3 innings last season, giving him 546 strikeouts in 319 career innings. Miller saved 36 games in 38 opportunities and struck out 100 in 612⁄3 innings for the Yankees.
Chapman and Miller, both of whom are lefthanders, and righthander Dellin Betances (131 strikeouts in 84 innings) will form a formidable late-inning trio. The Yankees will need that because of their suspect starting rotation.
“I think we’ll go into spring training with Chapman as our closer and kind of use those other guys to do the seventh and the eighth,” Girardi said. “If Chapman needs a day off, we have no fear in putting Dellin or Miller in that situation, obviously. Miller’s done a tremendous job. It gives me a lot of options.”
The Yankees acquired Chapman knowing he faces a possible suspension from commissioner Rob Manfred after an Oct. 30 incident in Davie, Florida, in which Chapman allegedly choked his girlfriend and fired eight shots from a handgun into his garage.
No charges were filed by police, but Major League Baseball is investigating Chapman’s actions under the domestic violence policy Manfred announced last August.
“We understand that that’s a serious allegation, a serious issue,” Girardi said. “We let Major League Baseball handle it, and we’ll deal with whatever happens.”