Mancuso: Chapman closer role is the question

Consider that Aroldis Chapman deserves better to be questioned about his role as the closer but it was another blown save  that puts his spot in jeopardy with the Yankees. Two of the three games in the Bronx and Chapman failed and this is not the time of year for manager Joe Girardi to be thinking about a change.

However with this latest Chapman implosion Sunday night that gave the Red Sox a chance to win it, Girardi gave confidence to his closer. He said, “He is our closer.” And rightfully so, Chapman deserves better but the questions are expected because that home run by rookie Rafael Devers in the ninth inning was a big blow off a 102-mile fastball.

So when a rookie and a part of this Red Sox future does the damage, off a reliable steamer from a fastball off Chapman, there has to be questions because Dellin Betances and David Robertson threw scoreless relief and can also be viable closers.

But this is, and for the most part, a reliable Aroldis Chapman who recorded his ninth blown save in 19 attempts this season and this latest one was  not supposed to happen with a division title up for grabs and the Yankees opposing the Red Sox six times in ten games of what is called rivalry week.

The Mets come to the Bronx Monday and Tuesday night. Then it is off the Citi Field of this interleague series for two more. The Yankees don’t want Chapman to give away those games also, because in the standings there is more at risk as the Mets are playing for next year.

The prevailing thought is, something may be wrong with the Chapman fastball. It looked good and averaged at 102, so how does a rookie get the big hit off that speed which paved a way for the Red Sod to take two of three in the Bronx?

“I was thinking hit the ball up the middle but you can’t plan a home run,” said Devers. He was the second left hander to hit a home run off Chapman. This was not supposed to be the plan for Girardi and the Yankees, and Friday night Chapman was also not effective. He lost control and the walks got him in trouble.

Girardi may have to think this one over and in a pennant race, even with a wild card lead getting slimmer by the day, there is minimal time to think this over.  

“I have expectations of myself,” said Chapman through an interpreter. “The last couple of outings haven’t been what I would like them to be. You definitely feel bad when you lose a game. You put that on your shoulders.”

Yet, Chapman has allowed runs in 10 of his 36 outings out of the pen this season and that includes runs in four of six against the Red Sox. There have also been those meltdowns on the mound that don’t exactly have that closer status tagged to Chapman which also leads to the questions.

And when a rookie hits a long shot in what was classified as the fastest pitch hit for a home run since MLB started tracking velocity in 2008, that also leads to questions. Is there something wrong with the fastball and composure for Aroldis Chapman to be the closer?

Perhaps this is another part of a long baseball season and Chapman will be back in form the next time he is on the mound.  However the inconsistency and more so, since his return from the disabled list, leads to those questions.

Girardi has that trust in his closer. Two other viable arms can fill the role also and bet on Betances and Robertson to see time out of the pen in the next four games with the Mets. The last thing Yankees fans want to witness is another meltdown of Aroldis Chapman with baseball bragging rights of New York on the line.

Keep in mind what is more important for Girardi and the Yankees about this Subway Series. It’s a division title they want and not the wildcard that is suddenly dwindling because 16-14 since the all -star break is not as good as the start the Yankees had in the first half.

The Yankees need these next four games more than the Mets, which is quite obvious. But a lead suddenly is not safe if Aroldis Chapman is on the mound to close it out. Sunday night a rookie did the damage and be assured the Mets want those bragging rights.

Time will tell where this goes but at the wrong time in a season that became the unexpected for Girardi and his Yankees.

Comment Rich Mancuso: [email protected]  Twitter@Ring786 Mancuso   


About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

Get connected with us on Social Media