By Dan Martin in Houston and Greg Joyce in New York
HOUSTON — Aroldis Chapman will have to wait a while longer to straighten himself out.
The Yankees’ struggling closer spent yet another game stuck in the bullpen Sunday, watching instead as Domingo German and Chad Green blew a five-run lead in the ninth inning of a brutal 8-7 loss to the Astros at Minute Maid Park.
Chapman last appeared in a game on Tuesday in Seattle, pitching a scoreless ninth inning of a 12-1 win.
Before Sunday’s loss, Aaron Boone and pitching coach Matt Blake said they were waiting for the right spot to use Chapman. That did not come in the ninth inning Sunday, which the Yankees started with a 7-2 lead and German on the mound before Green entered after the first two batters reached. Even once Green began to struggle, it was Lucas Luetge, not Chapman, who began warming.
“I think he’s so critical to our success, and it’s critical that we get him back to where we need him to be,” Boone said. “I want to pick those situations where I think he can get those, where he gets a clean outing under his belt.”
Prior to his last outing, Chapman had blown leads in three straight appearances. His struggles date back even further, giving up 14 earned runs in 5 ²/₃ innings before the low-leverage inning against the Mariners.
“The work on the side’s been really good,’’ Blake said. “It’s really just trying to get him confident behind the fastball again. … Then just building him back up and getting him to believe he’s the baddest guy on the mound when he’s out there.”
After Luis Severino threw another bullpen session at Double-A Somerset on Saturday, Blake said the right-hander likely needs one more before he’s ready to face live hitters.
“Things have trended in the right direction,’’ Blake said of Severino’s rehab from the strained groin he suffered during a rehab start in his comeback from Tommy John surgery. “He’s responded well to the increased workloads, so [he’s] getting closer.”
Blake was unsure how many rehab outings Severino would need before he’s ready to rejoin the rotation.
“That’s one we’ll follow cautiously,’’ Blake said. “We won’t rush him back in here. [We’ll] make sure he’s got his feet underneath him to a point where he’s confident he can handle major league hitters and recover on a timely basis.”
Blake said he was “pretty confident” Corey Kluber would pitch again this season after being shut down with a strained shoulder. “He’s continuing to progress and stretch his throwing program out,” Blake said.
GM Brian Cashman said the Yankees expected Kluber back by September.
Michael King (right middle finger contusion) played catch Sunday and felt fine.
In his latest start for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Deivi Garcia walked five in five shutout innings. He’s had an inconsistent first half of the season.
“Just kind of searching for [his] delivery a little bit,’’ Blake said of Garcia’s control issues, which have plagued him throughout the year.
Blake pointed to a possible overcorrection, since the Yankees had said the 22-year-old was too rotational at times in his delivery and now he’s occasionally “too linear.”
The Yankees are trying to get Garcia to be more aggressive in the strike zone.
Jonathan Loaisiga remained on the COVID-19 IL on Sunday, according to Boone.