Aroldis Chapman’s disastrous ninth inning Wednesday night will not cost him his job as the Yankees’ closer.
Despite concerning results of late for Chapman, who had been nearly unhittable to begin the season, manager Aaron Boone said Friday, he will continue to use the hard-throwing left-hander in save situations.
Boone will also try to get Chapman some action in lower-leverage spots to allow him to work through his delivery issues, but it will not come at the cost of his ninth-inning usage.
“There may be situations that I get him in along the way here, if it’s not exactly a save situation and he’s had a day off or something, to try to get him into some scenarios where it’s a little more regular,” Boone said before the first game of the Subway Series against the Mets was postponed. “We’re doing some things with him in his pregame and getting him on the slope a little bit more. Working through some things delivery-wise that’ll help unlock that command a little bit.”
After not allowing an earned run in 18 straight innings to begin the season, Chapman, entering Friday, had been tagged for 12 earned runs over his past 10 ²/₃ innings. That includes giving up six earned runs over his past two appearances, the most damaging one coming Wednesday against the Angels.
Chapman entered in the ninth inning to protect an 8-4 lead and walked the bases loaded before allowing a game-tying grand slam to Jared Walsh in what became a brutal 11-8 loss.
“In talking through the other night, I know getting warmed up, the command and everything was really strong,” Boone said. “That’s not necessarily always the case with Chappy down there. Then he kind of cuts that first fastball and pulls it on him and then he’s searching delivery-wise.”
If Boone had chosen to temporarily take Chapman out of the ninth inning job, Chad Green and Jonathan Loaisiga could have been potential options to close games.
Chapman’s struggles have also coincided with MLB’s crackdown on pitchers using foreign substances, but Boone said Thursday that he did not believe Chapman was affected by that.
Instead, Boone attributed Chapman’s struggles to his mechanics, which have left him “searching to find it out there in the fire.”
“One of the things we’ve seen with Chappy, even last year and the first couple months of this year, I feel like his delivery has been as good as it’s been,” Boone said. “That’s allowed him not only to hold and carry his great stuff, but it’s also allowed him to be more efficient strike-throwing and that’s been a little bit more of an issue obviously this past month.”