Yankees’ Aaron Boone ‘sticks’ by Gerrit Cole, Aroldis Chapman

Don’t blame the Yankees’ pitching issues on the banning of sticky substances.

Manager Aaron Boone insisted Thursday there is no correlation — even as his two most dominant pitchers have struggled mightily since a June 3 memo was sent out notifying teams that MLB would soon be enforcing its rules that prohibit the use of foreign substances. Enforcement began on June 21, with umpires checking pitchers after innings.

“I think that it affects us less than probably most teams,” Boone said, defending his staff. “I don’t see it as an overwhelming issue for our team.”

Boone didn’t have an exact explanation for why he felt that way or opted not to share it.

“That’s my feeling, what I know about guys,” he said.

The numbers seem to suggest otherwise. Before the June 3 memo went out, the Yankees had a team ERA of 3.16, which was second best in baseball. Since then, it is 5.26, 25th best. The biggest culprits have been ace Gerrit Cole and closer Aroldis Chapman, two pitchers paid to dominate. Both of them have seen significant decreases in their spin rates, believed to be a byproduct of doing away with the sticky substances.

Aroldis Chapman and Gerrit Cole
Aroldis Chapman and Gerrit Cole
Bill Kostroun; Corey Sipkin

Dating to the date of the memo, Cole has a 4.65 ERA. The Yankees have lost three of his five starts in that span. He has failed to go beyond five innings twice and has allowed nine home runs — four more than he gave up in his first 11 starts, when he notched a microscopic 1.78 ERA.

Chapman has been even worse. He has been scored upon in five of his last nine outings, allowing 11 earned runs in 5 ²/₃ innings. Chapman, who has blown two saves and taken losses two other times, also struck out just six while walking eight — at least two in each of his last three appearances. Wednesday night was rock bottom, when the lefty fireballer blew a four-run lead by allowing a grand slam after walking three hitters. Before the rough stretch, he had a 0.39 ERA. Since then, it is an astounding 17.47.

But Boone doesn’t believe these issues are connected to not being able to use these foreign substances, and instead pointed to mechanical issues.

“I do not think that’s part of his problem,” Boone said. “I feel strongly that’s not part of the problem.”

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