As Cole readies for Bronx debut, Chapman may see bullpen action today

As the 2-0 Gerrit Cole prepares to make his debut in pinstripes tonight against the Philadelphia Phillies in the Bronx tonight, closer Aroldis Chapman could be one step closer to his own MLB return after enduring COVID-19 earlier in July.

Yankees skipper Aaron Boone told media on Sunday afternoon that Chapman could be seeing bullpen action as early as today, saying “we’ll see where he’s at.”

“He’s doing great, everything’s gone well, he’s throwing back to back days,” Boone updated about Chapman’s condition. 

Though, tonight all eyes will be fixated on the long awaited Bronx debut of the Cole, who told reporters he saw improvement from first start against the Washington Nationals to his second against the Baltimore Orioles games where he threw a collective 12 strikeouts and allowed only five hits.

Jul 23, 2020; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Gerrit Cole (45) pitches against the Washington Nationals in the first inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

That Orioles series came after an emergency schedule change due to the Phillies being exposed to COVID-19 from the Miami Marlins in the days prior.

Cole said there was a feeling of being “off balance going from Philly to Baltimore,” adding, “we did our best with it and I certainly think we liked the results,” referring to the Yankees back-to-back wins over the O’s.

“Guys are brining it every night especially with a lot of unknowns and a lot of uncertainty,” the righty ace said, noting the confidence he has in this Yankees team.

“The power’s there, the communication through the lineup is there, the defense is crisp,” Cole said.

Like the vast majority of Yankees fans, Boone is also stoked not just for Cole pitching at home but for each appearances he makes.

“That’s usually an exciting day knowing I get to write his name on the lineup card,” Boone said.

“Obviously his history of being a lifelong Yankee fan and knowing how much it meant to him coming here and being a part of this team and pitching for this franchise and I know it will be a big deal for him putting those pinstripes on for real this time,” the manager he added.

New York Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole, center, holds a sign he used as a young Yankees fan, as he is introduced as the baseball clubs newest player during a baseball media availability, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019 in New York. He is joined by team owner Hal Steinbrenner, left, and his wife, Amy Cole. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

As for the rest of the Yankee rotation with players such Adam Ottavino, Zach Britton along with rookies Brooks Kriske and Nick Nelson, Boone said he’s looking to strike a balance with pitcher usage that’s on a “day by day, week by week scenario.” 

Both Boone and Cole also addressed what things have been like playing without a crowd, both saying that other factors of play have kept their minds off it.

“Once the game starts, you’re kind of locked in on all the things going on,” Boone said, adding that fan sound effects have made games “a pretty normal experience.”

“From an intensity standpoint I’ve been really proud of our guys,” the skipper said.

Cole reiterated his manager’s sentiment when he said that games “have a lot of edge” despite no fans.