It looks like the New York Yankees are about to get their All-Star closer back very soon. Aroldis Chapman, who tested positive for COVID-19 in July, is scheduled for another simulated appearance on Friday, according to Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News.
The simulated games should be the last step before Chapman is finally cleared to rejoin the Yankees’ bullpen, one that needs him after Tommy Kahnle was lost for a significant amount of time due to injury.
Chapman had been throwing off a mound as the Yankees bring him along slowly following a long layoff. He had been recovering from the virus but is ready to roll now and he should rejoin the team in a matter of days.
The Yankees will likely give him his closer gig right away
Left-handed reliever Zack Britton had been serving as the New York Yankees’ closer during Chapman’s absence. The ground-ball specialist leads the league in saves with six but Chapman is expected to reclaim his ninth-inning role immediately upon his return.
Chapman followed a rigurous training routine during the offseason and the extended break and now looks ripped.
Provided he doesn’t have any lingering effects from the COVID-19 infection, he should once again be among the top closers in the American League.
The 32-year-old is coming off a nice season in 2019. In 57.0 frames, he had a 2.21 ERA and a 2.28 FIP, with 13.42 strikeouts per nine innings and 3.95 bases on balls per each nine frames.
He made the last pitch of the New York Yankees’ season last year: a hanging slider that Jose Altuve sent into the stands as the Houston Astros eliminated the Bombers in six games in the American League Championship Series. However, Chapman is trying to put those memories behind him and start over this year, seeking a championship.