The New York Yankees addressed their bullpen efficiently this offseason, bringing in Adam Ottavino and retaining Zack Britton. The rotation will be used tactically throughout the season against specific teams and batters, but the same closer will feature – Aroldis Chapman.
The heat-seeker is known as one of the league’s fastest pitchers, hitting over 100 mph regularly. His power is generated from his explosive follow-through and lower half. Utilizing his legs to propel forward is how he manages to produce such speed, but it leaves him vulnerable to injury.
Chapman has had knee issues which have slowed him down in recent years – specifically, in 2018. In the second half of the season, his fastball which usually ranges from 99-101 mph fell to 96-97. His entire game is built on power and intimidation. If his speed drops, so does his efficiency.
Yankees’ Aroldis Chapman commented on the ailment:
“I want to say no, but you never know,’’ Chapman said through an interpreter when asked if the knee would be a concern this season. “I don’t think it will be. I finished all the rehab they recommended and was able to keep working out.”
The tendinitis in his knee forced him to sit out games in July and August, but he was able to finish the season. The Yankees will need to manage him carefully in 2019, as to not fatigue him to a point where he will struggle in the post-season.
What happens if Chapman goes down?
I would anticipate that manager Aaron Boone could utilize Ottavino, Britton, and Betances to close out games if Chapman succumbs to injury. The bullpen was solid last year, but this time around it has the potential to be the best in baseball. Having capable options will allow the Yankees a firm security blanket if the dominant closer needs assistance throughout the year.