After a perfect first month and an excellent performance in May (0.75 ERA), New York Yankees’ closer Aroldis Chapman had a rough June, with an 11.42 ERA in 8.2 innings. After MLB started checking pitchers for foreign substances on the ball on June 21, he was never quite the same.
June and July were ugly months for Chapman. We have no evidence to say he was using sticky stuff before the crackdown (lots of pitchers did), but his performance started to dip considerably and his command and control began to disappear.
Yes, some pitchers use foreign substances on the ball to increase spin rate, but others do it for control and command. Sticky stuff provides the hurler with a better grip on the ball, and that’s what Chapman has been failing miserably since June: his walks have skyrocketed, and he was never a control artist to begin with.
He was unusable for a stretch. The Yankees had to endure some ugly outings. But right now, the pitcher seems to be pointing in the right direction, albeit still with some control issues.
The Yankees’ closer has been living on the edge, but is improving
Consider that the Yankees’ stopper has a 6.23 ERA in his last 30 games, a span covering 26 innings. He has handed 24 free passes over those 26 frames, which is simply unsustainable.
However, he has been better in his last 15 games (1.88 ERA with a 9/21 BB/K ratio in 14.1 innings) and in his last seven (2.84 ERA).
He seems to be taking baby steps while he works through his issues in a Yankees’ uniform. For the look of things, he could have a blip or two with walks in this new era of pitching without the help of sticky substances, but at least there have been some positive signs recently.
Some of his recent outings with the Yankees have been hard to watch. He has had to be taken out of the game a couple of times after getting some traffic on the bases via walks. But let’s also consider the fact that he has a 1.76 ERA in 15.1 inning since July 6, when things started to click for the Bombers.
Aroldis Chapman last 16 outings dating back to July 6th 🔥
15.1 IP, 3 ER, 9 H, 24 SO, 11 BB, 8 S, 0 BS, 1.76 ERA
— Talkin' Yanks (@TalkinYanks) September 2, 2021