New York Yankees’ closer Aroldis Chapman has dominated MLB hitters since his debut in 2010 and is notorious for his high heater. On September 24, 2010, Chapman set the Major League record for fastest pitch ever recorded which was at a whopping 105.1MPH.
In his ten year tenure, Chapman holds a career 2.23 ERA and has 883 strikeouts in 535.2 innings pitched. He consistently finishes among the leaders in closers every year and always holds the most saves on the Yankee staff.
Even though Chapman continues to dominate hitters, I’ve noticed there’s something different about the way he pitches. Chapman has begun to develop a nasty slider to work in with his fastball that simply cuts hitters up. This is because his velocity has taken a short decline over the past few years.
In 2016 when Chapman was traded over to the New York Yankees, he averaged 101.2MPH on his fastball. Last season, the left-hander averaged 98.2MPH on his heater. I understand that 98MPH is still some serious heat, but think about it if it was another pitcher. Say a starter was throwing 93-94 one year and drops down to 90MPH, that’s a pretty big drop.
There’s been talk that Chapman is losing his touch with his age, and there definitely is an argument for that, but this small loss of velocity won’t stop him from being great.
98MPH is still detrimental to hitters, especially with Chapman’s build and mechanics. His mechanics and build allow him to release the ball at a shorter distance than other pitchers which creates a shorter time for the hitter to respond and hit the ball.
Essentially what I’m trying to say is even though Chapman doesn’t have his 100MPH+ consistent fastball anymore, he’s still a dominant closer. The addition of his nasty slider helps too.