When New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman was suspended earlier in the month over a domestic violence incident, many fans wondered how the back end of the bullpen would look like without the “Three Headed Monster.”
By Christian Kouroupakis
When Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, and Dellin Betances first entered George M. Steinbrenner Field as the newly-formed “Big Three” of baseball, all eyes, ears, and cameras were on them during their first bullpen sessions.
Fastballs sounded like gunshots, as manager Joe Girardi salivated over the new trust he has in the back of the bullpen.
The Bronx Is Burning. https://t.co/Jv4fui38W9
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) December 28, 2015
“If we do what we have to do, I think we’ll be one of the best groups [in MLB] to help the team hopefully win a championship,” Betances told A.J. Herrmann of YES Network. “That’s our goal and our mentality.”
The hype, is real.
However, the hype train made a stop when MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred suspended Chapman for the first 30 games of the season. The decision to penalize the lefty will delay his Bronx debut until May 9 against the World Champion Kansas City Royals, who ironically built a championship team with a lights out pen.
Many fans and members of the media can’t decide whether or not the punishment was too harsh, not harsh enough or if it even makes sense. Whichever side you’re on, there’s no denying that the New York Yankees will be quite alright during Chapman’s absence, even if it means he’ll be able to walk in 2017 via Free Agency.
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This suspension, or delaying of the hype train, simply means Girardi is back where he was in 2015. Only having Miller and Betances to close out games for the Bombers.
At first glance, of course, the duo is less reliable than having a guy that could reach 106 MPH in the mix as well, but there is no reason not to believe the back end of the bullpen will be just fine without Chapman in the mix. Don’t forget, they’ll get the guy back in May.
In April of last season, Miller was 8-for-8 in save opportunities, had an ERA of 0.00, batters only batted .081, and the lefty had 20 strikeouts in 11.1 innings pitched. Talk about domination…
Betances was just as dominant in the first month of the season. He also had a 0.00 ERA, in fact he didn’t allow a run until June of 2015. The big righty standing at 6’8” also had a 13.9 K/9 rate, batters had a dismal .119 average against him, and batters only reached base 5 times off Betances in the first month of the season.
It seems as if the Yankees won’t be a lost puppy without Chapman.
All three of members of the Bombers’ “Super Pen” have the ability to go to any other team in baseball and be a dominant closer. When Chapman returns from suspension, that’ll be a horrifying thought for the rest of the division, and even baseball.
How horrifying? In 2015, Chapman, Miller and Betances tossed 212 innings, recorded 347 strikeouts and a 1.66 ERA. They ranked 1-2-3 in strikeouts per nine innings among all major-league relievers, and all three finished in the top-7 for lowest opponents’ batting average.
Another aspect of this whole thing to note: Chapman may have been named the closer, but right out of the gate no one expected him to close every game. Before even considering suspension, he could get hurt or need rest and the Yankees have multiple arms capable of closing games, with dominance.
The move to get Chapman was undoubtedly made to shut down teams in October, not April. But the suspension won’t affect the New York Yankees. The thought of seeing the trio in action makes the eyes of fans widen, but they’ll have to wait, and that’s perfectly fine.
Chapman’s long and deserved absence was expected as soon as Brian Cashman made the trade with the Cincinnati Reds to acquire him. He knew he could get him for cheap, create a more than dominant bullpen, and was well prepared for any type of suspension.