Aroldis Chapman has brought the heat to the Bronx these last few nights, and the New York Yankees are loving every second of it.
Yankees’ fans are getting that are about to see a lot more.
On Monday night, the day Chapman was reinstated from a 29-game suspension following an alleged domestic violence incident, he fired his first four pitches at 100-MPH or better and maxed out at 101-MPH.
Chapman did not register a save but did cap off a 6-3 Yankee win while fans jerked their necks to take a look at the radar gun on the scoreboard in centerfield. It was more of the same on Tuesday night’s bizarre victory.
After Masahiro Tanaka surrendered two leads following the now setup man Andrew Miller doing the same, Chapman shut down the scrappy Royals by dialing up his fastball to 102-MPH en route to his first save as a Yankee.
To end the game in front of a crowd of 39,128, he got Lorenzo Cain – who had finished the back and forth contest with three home runs — to hit a dull pop up to Starlin Castro to end the ballgame and ensure the save.
Let’s face it, the electricity that the “Cuban Missle” brought to the Bronx these last few nights was expected but the one question on all our minds was: “will there be a lead for him to save?”
Surely enough, the roadwork to create a winning atmosphere with the strength being the back end of the bullpen is working to perfection and Chapman produces a lot more flare to accompany it.
When they acquired him for Caleb Cotham, Rookie Davis, Eric Jagielo and Tony Renda to create the three-headed monster that is Dellin Betances, Miller, and Chapman, it was crystal clear that they sought to “copy” the World Series Champion Royals, who won consecutive pennants by compressing games with Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis, and Greg Holland.
The only difference is, New York’s trio runs circles around the one that fueled Kansas City’s first title since 1985.
The only homegrown feature of the “three-headed monster,” Betances, owns a 1.84 ERA with 14 strikeouts per nine innings in his five-year career. Miller has maintained a 1.82 ERA with a staggering 16.3 K/9 during his time in New York.
Coming into this season, Chapman owns a 1.90 ERA and struck out an extraordinary 456 hitters in 255.2 innings pitched which is more than 16 K/9 in the last four seasons as a member of the Cincinnati Reds.
Offensively, you should be able to look beyond the struggles and realize what the offense is at its max potential. It strikes fear into the eyes of the opposition. Whether with the long ball or hitting the ball to all parts of the field without Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, and Jacoby Ellsbury, this offense will get you.
As a team, the Bombers have scored just 117 runs which is good for sixth worst in baseball and are they’re hitting just .218 with runners in scoring position which is third worst in all of Major League Baseball but those numbers get magnified and gave birth to mass havoc being that the baseball season is only in May.
The truth of the matter is, the chances with RISP will translate into more runs scored in the long run because the team’s plate discipline is extremely solid.
How solid? Their Swr/Str (swings and miss percentage) is at 8.0% which is the lowest total in baseball right now. They’re also putting pressure on and wreaking havoc on the basepaths with baseball’s best 79.3% stolen base success rate.
Besides the ‘pen, what were the two greatest components of the 2015 Kansas City Royals? They scratched and clawed for runs with discipline and speed. The 2016 New York Yankees have that and feature superior long ball power.
Additionally (and honestly), it cannot get any worse. No one is necessarily on fire aside from Castro, who’s undoubtedly their best hitter, and every hitter in that lineup has a positive opportunity to turn their numbers around.
Take Teixeira for example. He’s been notoriously known for slumping in the early quarter of the season and you shouldn’t worry about him. He hit a mere .136 with two homers and nine RBIs in 2010’s first month but finished the year with 33 home runs and 108 RBI.
Sure, he’s 35-years old now and father time is undefeated, but he was in MVP talks before going down with an injury a year ago so there is every reason to believe that he has plenty of “Tex-Messages” left in his tank.
Yes, watching this offense has brought excruciating pain in the first month of the season but they have won four out of their last five while averaging 5.6 runs per game against the first-place Boston Red Sox and the defending World Series Champions. Things are getting better.
Besides, the Royals offense a year ago scored 40 fewer runs than the Bombers did and the Yankees’ lineup only got better. The key to success, in this case, is to win the game in the seventh inning.
Never since the legendary closer Mariano Rivera’s time in the Bronx have fans get what I call “Mariano Rivera Syndrome” when the game is seemingly over. Not only does Chapman bring that, but the vibe starts in the seventh with Betances and Miller.
This past offseason, general manager Brian Cashman mapped out the bullpen that sought to bring out title number 28. With Chapman’s return, the formula that has sustained its capability of winning it all is being put to use with the hopes that it can carry this team to even bigger heights.