Aroldis Chapman issues raise larger questions for Yankees bullpen

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Aroldis Chapman Yankes
New York Yankees relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman, huddles with teammates during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022, in New York.
AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

It’s a scene that had played out one too many times for the Yankees and that likely has Aaron Boone and the team’s staff more concerned than they were outwardly showing on Sunday afternoon. 

Aroldis Chapman pitched one-third of an inning during the Yankees’ home finale loss to the Baltimore Orioles. One which ultimately cost them the game as he struggled to get an out and eventually surrendered two runs, which included a bases-loaded walk on a pitch that didn’t even reach the plate. 

“I haven’t been executing consistent strikes. It’s been something that has happened to me this season,” Chapman said through a translator on Sunday. “It’s frustrating and sometimes it can be part of the game. You just gotta get better.” 

The issue with Chapman raises a greater concern for the Yankees as they head into the postseason later this month. New York’s bullpen has taken its fair share of hits recently as its depth continues to be tested, and that continued over the weekend. 

Chapman’s effort added more fuel to the fire that he shouldn’t be part of the Yankees postseason roster. It was reported last week by the New York Post that the Yankees had been “at least contemplating” designating Chapman for assignment and after a year of mechanical issues and trips to the injury list, it was hard to fathom that occurring. 

The reliever will be a free agent after this season and it remains unlikely that the Yankees bring him back after that. 

But in the short term, the situation has become a bit more complicated as New York has seen a number of their relievers shelved due to injuries. Zach Britton was out on the 60-day IL with arm fatigue over the weekend, Clay Holmes is dealing with a right shoulder strain and is sidelined until the divisional series, Michael King is done for the season as is Chad Green, and Ron Marinaccio was forced to leave Sunday’s game with sorness in his right shin. 

While the Yankees may not want to have to call on Chapman during the postseason they very may well have to depend on where some of those names on the long list of injuries stand once the ALDS begins in the Bronx on Oct. 11. Yankees manager Aaron Boone admitted that the consistency issues from Chapman were a concern with such little time left on the calender. 

New York Yankees relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman, right, reacts as Baltimore Orioles’ Cedric Mullins (31) reaches home plate to score on a bases-loaded walk during the seventh inning of a baseball game Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022, in New York.AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

“At times not enough strikes (thrown) and that gets him into trouble,” Boone responded when asked what he’s been seeing as the reason he’s had issues. 

Lou Trivino, Lucas Luetge, Clarke Schmidt, Scott Effross, Jonathan Loaisiga, Wandy Peralta and Chapman make up the Yankees bullpen right now and during the final days of the season, Boone is going to give them the chance to audition for postseason roles.

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The expanded playoff format also gives the Yankees a few extra days off before they face their divisional series opponent which could benefit the team in terms of those injured and on the cusp of coming back.

“With our bullpen guys just being a little strategic with how we use them,” Boone said when speaking about the final series of the season. “Make sure we get the right workload for them. That will be the biggest thing going into each day is just lining up the pitching. How we want to use guys, who we want to stay away from on a given day.” 

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