The New York Yankees had to endure more than two hours of rain delays, split in two of them, to finish last nightâ€™s game against the Los Angeles Angels. They got to the ninth frame leading 8-4, and manager Aaron Boone gave the ball to his closer, Aroldis Chapman.
Chapman has been struggling of late, but the Yankeesâ€™ skipper opted to go to his closer, hoping that he got it together and pitched a clean inning in a non-save situation. In theory, there is no better situation to bring him amid his struggles and see if he can work things out.
Chapman walked Taylor Ward, Max Stassi, and Anthony Rendon, and faced Jared Walsh with just one out in the inning and the bases loaded. The lefty slugger deposited a 1-0 slider deep into right field for a game-tying grand slam, a play that the Yankeesâ€™ closer hadnâ€™t allowed in his career.
Sadly, last nightâ€™s events werenâ€™t isolated for Chapman. Here are his numbers in his last seven games: 11.12 ERA, 5.2 innings, nine hits, seven earned runs, eight walks, and six strikeouts, with a 3.00 WHIP.
Yankeesâ€™ fans are worried about Chapmanâ€™s rough stretch
So what is wrong with Chapman? Is he hiding an injury? Could his dip in performance be related to MLBâ€™s ban on foreign substances on the ball?
For now, the Yankeesâ€™ star left-hander is attributing his rough stretch to a lack of fastball command, or at least last nightâ€™s game.
Here is what he told Betelhem Ashame of MLB.com: â€œ[I was] just struggling trying to command my fastball. Itâ€™s tough when youâ€™re trying to get strikes with it and youâ€™re not getting it. â€¦ When youâ€™re trying to locate and use that pitch and itâ€™s not the way you want it, you run into trouble, and I think thatâ€™s the main cause for me now.â€
Will Chapman be able to right the ship?