New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman has had an extremely up-and-down season, with high peaks, like his perfect month in April, and exaggerated valleys, such as his horrendous June. At times, the numbers say he has been improving, but the eye test often tells a different story. He is working his way back to the circle of trust, and has really struggled ever since MLB started to check pitchers for foreign substances.
In recent outings, the Yankees’ closer has gone away from the fastball, his trademark pitch and one that he can dial up to triple digits, in favor of his slider and splitter. Granted, those two are very good offerings for him, but he won’t get 100% right if he doesn’t trust his fastball, which appears to be the problem.
People usually think that sticky substances on the ball are used just to increase spin rate, but in reality, most pitchers use it to get a better grip on the ball and, as a result, improve control and command.
Chapman has apparently lost command of his fastball, and his control comes and goes. As a consequence, he throws too many breaking balls.
The Yankees want Chapman to feature his heater
Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone said that Chapman, at times, has gone away from the fastball a little too much per Bill Ladson of MLB.com.
“Part of that is the confidence he has on his secondary pitches and his ability to strike the breaking ball,” Boone said. “But I think it is important to always make sure that the fastball is a feature for him.
“Usually when he is throwing the fastball well and for strikes … that’s an indication he is in line with his delivery, and the secondary pitches can work off of that.”
Chapman’s ERA is up to 3.72, his worst mark as a major leaguer and a mediocre one for a top reliever. He is improving, though, little by little, as he has a 2.20 ERA after the All-Star break.
It hasn’t always been pretty, though.