The return of Aroldis Chapman will make the New York Yankees bullpen extremely scary, but not at the expense of Andrew Miller’s closer duties.
By Emmanuel Berbari
Despite the early season struggles from the New York Yankees, one thing has remained constant: the back end of the bullpen is monstrous and is going to get awfully scary on May 9th.
In the last two games that Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller have had to lock down, Sunday’s Mariners win and the latest 6-3 win over the Rays, they have combined to strike out 11 of the 12 batters they have faced.
Neither pitcher has allowed an earned run this season, coming to no surprise given the dominance of the duo just a year ago.
Betances has struck out 20 in eight innings pitched thus far, and Miller has struck out 15 in seven innings pitched while locking down all four save opportunities.
It goes without saying that adding Aroldis Chapman to the mix will be a spectacle, but why remove Andrew Miller from the ninth?
Yes, Chapman is ‘Mr. 106’ possessing an arm that has baffled the game of baseball. With that, he is also a renowned closer. However, Miller is coming off a season in which he was named AL Reliever of the Year and already has a season under his belt in the Big Apple.
If Miller does not blow a save from here until May 9th and continues this level of pitching alongside Betances, doesn’t it defy common logic to not interrupt something that is not broken?
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Sliding Chapman into the eighth inning might slightly damage his charisma, but that comes with being suspended 30 games. It would interrupt the bullpen far less than sliding him into a role that he has not yet earned with the club.
Manager Joe Girardi can certainly play around with this. Running with a closer by committee may work for a while, but it has not yet become a proven commodity throughout baseball, particularly for a team that intends to contend.
All three will get opportunities to close especially with the days off that must be given, but typically stability will come with a closer being set in stone.
Miller has done absolutely nothing to lose that role, and his humbleness about it probably only helps his cause. No signs of frustration were shown on Miller’s behalf when the Yankees acquired Chapman from the Reds.
115 strikeouts along with a 1.83 ERA in his tenure with the Yankees (including this season) has to be appreciated and there are no signs of any tail-off.
The Yankees also have an additional year of Miller while Chapman is in a walk year with five months to make his mark. Why not maximize your pieces?
The chances of Chapman imploding are low, regardless of his role. The same goes with both Miller and Betances. With that being said, it would not be a bad idea for Girardi to role with the Betances-Chapman-Miller trio, in that order, until proven otherwise.
Each combination he plays with can certainly have results equally as effective, but this particular combination may provide for a smoother transition.
Whichever way the cards drop, this is a good problem for the Yankees to have.