The New York Yankees are facing a number of issues to open to the 2022 season, ranging from the offense’s overall production to the team’s ability to close out games. Against an abysmal Baltimore Orioles team on Friday, the Yankees scored just one lone run, failing miserably to drive in runners in scoring position.
The team squandered a chance with the bases loaded in the 6th inning, but outfielder Aaron Hicks grounded into a double play, bringing even more negativity regarding his overall value. However, Hicks is hitting .300 on the season, far better than the majority of the team at this point in time, especially the back-end of the batting order.
The Yankees face another pressing issue:
The closing pitching has been just as problematic, or specifically, Aroldis Chapman, who walked in the winning run for Baltimore on a high breaking ball that just missed the upper left corner of the zone.
After Clarke Schmidt struggled in the 11th inning to give the Yankees an opportunity to score another run, he walked two batters, putting Chapman in a tough spot, to begin with. However, the day before, Chapman loaded the bases with three consecutive walks against Toronto, forcing Aaron Boone to pull him and give Michael King an opportunity to save the day.
Luckily, King escaped in just five pitches, curating a strikeout and double play line drive to shortstop. If Chapman continues to struggle, there’s an argument to be made the King should get the first crack at closing games. Last year, Chapman experienced his fair share of struggles after the league cracked down on spider-tack.
In fact, Chapman recorded his highest ERA since 2011 with the Cincinnati Reds. He posted a 3.36 ERA over 56 innings and saw his velocity drop considerably during the 2nd half of the season.
With left-handed closers Zack Britton recovering from Tommy John surgery, the Yankees need Chapman to be at the top of his game, and while it is early on in the season, he experienced similar issues last year at the midway point, which could be concerning for management.