In Game 2 of the Yankees vs. Mets subway series, Aroldis Chapman did everything possible to make it a roller coaster ride of a game. While Chapman had put up elite numbers this season going into yesterday’s game, a 1.35 ERA, o.825 WHIP and 26 saves in 27 chances, he did not put up a line reflecting that level of play yesterday. To compound concerns for the Yankees, he had to pull out of the All-Star game with what he described as tendinitis in his left knee last week, which raises the question whether this bad outing could be medically related. Chapman has always been prone to bouts of wildness since his rookie campaign, but when wildness is coupled with the knowledge he has discomfort in his knee, there is a reason to be concerned.
Chapman did his best impersonation of the Nuke LaLoosh character from “Bill Durham” against the Mets. Chapman faced 5 batters, giving up 3 runs in 0.0 innings. He threw 16 balls on 19 pitches. He walked three batters. He surrendered a hit. He hit a batter. The only thing that spared him from direct emulation of a LaLoosh style outing is there was no mascot next to the dugout to hit. He simply could not find the strike zone, and for that, the fans gave Chapman the Bronx cheer from the mound to the dugout as he exited the game according to The Bleacher Report.
Aaron Boone says the team thinks Aroldis Chapman is OK. The Yankees will be further evaluating the closer who has been pitching through knee tendinitis the past couple months, but the belief is it may simply have been rust and the long time off for Chapman.— Coley Harvey (@ColeyHarvey) July 21, 2018
While a day like that means very little in the grand scheme of things as the Yankees held on for the win, it does raise some questions that manager Aaron Boone and GM Brian Cashman need to consider before July turns into August and the trading deadline passes. The biggest thing to sort out is the severity of what is going on with Chapman’s knee, so they know what kind of workload he can physically withstand, or if shutting it down for a week or two will help prepare him for the back-end of the season.
The next thing they need to consider is whether or not they need to bump up their efforts to land a proven closer, which in light of this last outing from Chapman, would raise the price on anyone they pursue. While there are a dozen or so relievers on the market that have closer experience, only a few can be considered reliable, and even those few aren’t quite up to Chapman’s level. A quick fix would be someone like Fernando Rodney, who at 41-years-old has compiled 321 career saves, but is not the guy you can count on to close every day anymore. Ideally, they could swing a deal for Zach Britton, but Orioles owner Peter Angelos is generally loathed to trade stars to the Yankees and would hold Cashman up for ransom.
After that Chapman performance (19 pitches, 16 balls), yankees may have to step up pursuit of Britton. Phils, cubs, dodgers, braves, maybe Red Sox also among possibilities.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) July 21, 2018
Then again, most analysts, and Chapman, have already chalked the bad outing up to it being the inevitable fate that everyone has a bad day now and then over the course of 162 games, as Chapman was reported as saying by NJ.com. The Yankees have to hope that’s all it is. For now, Boone was reported as saying he will keep an eye on Chapman by Bleacher Report.