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Yankees Axe Chapman for ALDS

Yankees Chapman ALDS

The New York Yankees announced on Sunday that they will go without ex-closer Aroldis Chapman for the ALDS. After Chapman failed to show up for a mandatory workout, manager Aaron Boone said Chapman would not be on the team’s ALDS roster. The 34-year old lefty, who lost the closer role earlier this season, reportedly did not provide an adequate excuse for his absence, leading to the decision. His struggles this year were likely an added incentive. Even so, Chapman’s exclusion means the Yankees have one fewer piece in an already complex bullpen situation. They will have to muddle through via a bullpen by committee system.


Yankees Will Go Without Chapman in ALDS

Further details on Chapman’s exclusion from the ALDS roster came to light Monday. Per Bob Nightengale of USA Today, Chapman told the team he would only attend the workout if he was already guaranteed a roster spot. The Yankees would not go that far, so he was left off.

While there is no official announcement yet, this parting of ways seems likely to extend to later postseason rounds. Even prior to Chapman’s no-show, his playoff status was up in the air. He struggled for large stretches of the season, pitching to a 4.46 ERA and walking 28 in 36 1/3 innings. His FIP was a career-worst 4.57. Chapman eventually lost the closer spot to Clay Holmes, who dominated early on before encountering struggles of his own.

The Yankees began to lose trust in Chapman, using him less and less as the season continued. A major reason for this was his inability to locate his fastball. A fireballer closer needs to be able to throw his fastball for strikes. Once he lost that ability, it not only led to walks, but forced him to go to his slider, a much less effective pitch. The Yankees likely figured if Chapman couldn’t fix his command by the end of the season, the postseason was too important a time to gamble on it.

Another potential factor is Chapman’s prior struggles in October. In the last two “full” Yankee postseasons (excluding their Wild Card Game loss last season), Chapman surrendered series-deciding homers. In 2019, Jose Altuve walked him off to send the Houston Astros to the World Series. The next year, Mike Brosseau of the Tampa Bay Rays took him deep in the ALDS. The Yankees may have feared he would add to that list if used this postseason.


State of the Pen

Without Chapman as an option, and with no set closer due to Holmes’ struggles, the Yankees will have to employ a bullpen by committee. Likely candidates to close games include Holmes (albeit with a short leash) and Jonathan Loaisiga. Wandy Peralta and Lou Trivino could also be used in certain situations. RHP Scott Effross and LHP Lucas Luetge are likely to take middle relief spots. Jameson Taillon, Domingo German and Clarke Schmidt are long relief candidates assuming they don’t make the rotation. While the Yankees would’ve liked to have a better closer situation, whether with Holmes or Chapman, there should be no shortage of reliable arms to get key outs late.

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Players/Managers Mentioned:

Aroldis Chapman, Aaron Boone, Clay Holmes, Jose Altuve, Mike Brosseau, Jonathan Loaisiga, Wandy Peralta, Lou Trivino, Scott Effross, Lucas Luetge, Jameson Taillon, Domingo German, Clarke Schmidt


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