After hitters began to raise concerns about pitchers utilizing a sticky substance to improve their spin rate and velocity, teams began producing elevated totals on the scoreboard. For example, the Yankees, who have struggled this season offensively, have posted 22 runs over the past three games, a number they hadn’t seen since last year. Is it a coincidence they suddenly began hitting homers and making more contact at an incredible rate?
It is entirely possible the Yankees’ offense just simply hit a groove, but the alternative makes sense considering the timing. However, the Yankees blew a late lead over the Minnesota Twins on Thursday evening, as closer Aroldis Chapman gave up two homers. Interestingly, Chapman lost 4-5 mph on his fastball, and his spin rate was reduced significantly. Whether or not this had anything to do with the changing sticky substance is yet to be seeing over a larger sample size, but Aaron Boone came to his defense.
“They were looking fastball and they got some right down the middle, and he wasn’t hitting his normal velocity,’’ Aaron Boone said of Chapman after the blown save. “He’s been as good as there’s been in the sport.”
Good news and bad news for the Yankees:
Taking a look at the game, the Yankees offense performed well, recording 12 hits and five strikeouts. Giancarlo Stanton has been playing lights out recently, launching a three-run homer in the first inning, despite striking out three times. DJ LeMahieu recorded two hits and Gleyber Torres recorded three, elevating his average to .279.
Torres, over the past few games, has been phenomenal, recording seven hits over 18 at-bats. The only game over the last four contests he didn’t record a hit, he still drove in two runs and walked twice. It is a huge positive to see Torres hoisting his game like this, especially with his defense lacking in some areas.
As for the pitching, Michael King lasted 3.2 innings, posting two earned runs and four hits, striking out three batters. The relief was solid until Chapman gave up four consecutive hits and blew the save. He still hosts a 1.96 ERA on the season, a respectable number that makes him arguably the best closer in baseball.