The New York Yankees have been facing a bit of adversity in the bullpen the past few weeks, but they are preparing to get back one of their best options in Aroldis Chapman.
Chapman started a rehab assignment with Double-A Somerset on Friday, taking a big step forward in his return from Achilles tendinitis. The future Hall of Fame closer had a tumultuous May, posting a 9.53 ERA after allowing just two hits over 8.1 innings in April.
Clearly, the injury impacted him significantly, with his last appearance coming on May 22. Fast forward one month, and the Yankees are still enjoying the best record in baseball, but Chapman’s loss has been felt.
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The Yankees are excited about the return of Chappy:
Thankfully, Aroldis looked fantastic in his rehab assignment, showing life with his fastball and being aggressive across the strike zone.
“He looked great, [said he] felt great, it was just awesome to see him healthy again and competing again,” Fiorito told MyCentralJersey.com. “He did a great job, you could just see the life he had on his fastball and how he was getting on hitters. He looked like Aroldis Chapman.”
There’s no question that field manager Aaron Boone desperately needs Chapman back. He will help mitigate fatigue at the closer position with Clay Holmes. In addition, it will give him another weapon to use situationally, especially against left-handed hitters.
“I’m excited about getting Chappy healthy and another impactful reliever in our bullpen,” Aaron Boone said before Friday’s game. “We’ve been dinged up back there. It’s just going to make us better.”
Regarding how Chapman will be used in conjunction with Holmes, Boone indicated they will utilize a strategy to attack specific batters or portions of an opposing team’s lineup.
“It’s going to be where they match up the best,” Boone said. “Clay has certainly earned being in that closer role, but even with Aroldis out, it doesn’t mean I wouldn’t shoot [Holmes] in the right eighth-inning situation.”
On the season, Chapman hosts a 3.86 ERA over 14 innings. He’s earned an 84.2% left on base rate and 34.1% ground ball rate. His walks per nine have skyrocketed over the past two seasons, landing at 6.07 last year and 6.43 this year.
However, Chapman has an opportunity to get back to his former self. His velocity has dropped from 98.5 mph on his fastball to 97.1 mph this season. If he can get back some of that heat, Chapman should be a useful piece down the stretch.