Brian McCann has faced Aroldis Chapman. He’s glad he doesn’t have to anymore.
“You don’t see it,” the Yankees catcher said Tuesday of Chapman’s fastball, which has been clocked at 105 miles per hour. “You don’t. You’ve got to swing right when the ball is about to be released. Your chances then are slim. He’s dominant. He’s one of those guys that when he comes in a game, the other team feels like it’s over. We have three of those guys. So we’re excited.”
One of those other guys, Andrew Miller, was also on hand with McCann at the 36th annual Thurman Munson awards dinner in midtown. In fact, it was a bit of a closer’s convention, with Jeurys Familia of the Mets and former Mets (and, briefly, Yankees) reliever Jesse Orosco also being honored along with former Yankee Jim Abbott, a lefthanded starter.
Miller, who won the 2015 AL reliever of the year award with 36 saves, has graciously ceded his closer’s role to Chapman, whom the Yankees acquired in December from Cincinnati to create a formidable 1-2-3 punch along with Dellin Betances.
“Chapman’s a special arm and helps us win games,” Miller said. “Helps us get to the goal. It’s a good thing. It wasn’t that long ago that I had to be the long guy one day and I’d get an out in the eighth inning in a tie game the next day. It’s hard for me to say I’m used to something or I’ve got a routine that I have to use to get by.”
Said McCann: “To add that arm, and now you move Betances and Miller down an inning, it’s going to be great. I don’t really have another word for it.”
As for Familia, he doesn’t have two potential closers in front of him, but he does have a World Series appearance in his immediate past. Familia blew three saves in the World Series after saving five games in the first two rounds and 43 in the regular season.
Familia said he thinks the experience of pitching in the postseason can only help him in his first full season as Mets closer.
“I think that affected me in a very positive way,” Familia said through a translator. “I just think that so early in my career to have that experience, I feel like it’s really prepared me.”
Familia’s setup men will be free-agent signee Antonio Bastardo and holdover Addison Reed. Familia said he knows Bastardo well from winter ball in the Dominican Republic.