The Yankees boast the best record in baseball at 28–9 heading into their Thursday afternoon matchup, and the roster in the Bronx lacks many flaws — but lefty closer Aroldis Chapman’s play has left much to be desired thus far, and questions are rampant about his future on the mound.
The 34-year-old has recorded a modest 2.63 ERA through 13.2 innings pitched, while allowing 11 hits and 4 runs (which have all come during his last 4 outings).
His recent woes allowed the Chicago White Sox to snag a game against New York on May 14, when Chapman gave up a single and a walk, before allowing outfielder Luis Robert to drive home a walk-off single to win 3–2.
The following contest, manager Aaron Boone went with fellow reliever Clay Homes in the 9th inning to nurse a 5–1 lead.
In other recent games, Chapman has nearly blown leads— though the stellar performance by the Yankees offense has given him enough cushion to avoid that embarrassing fate.
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Making the lefty’s less-than-impressive play at the closer position more frustrating for fans, the team does have other reliever options who could pick up the workload.
Holmes, in particular, has recorded just a 0.44 ERA through 20.1 innings pitched, while Michael King has 1.40 ERA in 25.2 innings on the mound.
Either Holmes or King could potentially earn time at the closer position if the Yankees make a change by benching Chapman, playing him only in lower-stakes games, or sending the lefty to another franchise in a trade.
Still, Yankee brass has made no indication that they intend to make a change — and with the best record in the MLB, they can afford to give their closer some leeway to see if he can work through some of his recent problems.
“He’s just a tick off. He’s on the attack, though,” said Boone. “I think he’s getting back on the attack.”