Aroldis Chapman has gone off the rails and the New York Yankees have the right idea in mind to get him back on track.
And now, Chapman is the butt of the joke. He’s the $86 million man who can’t close a game to save his own life.
So, what do the Yankees do with a closer who lost his way? Do they continue putting him out there to “work through” his struggles?
Or…do they demote his role to give him the kick in the butt he needs to return to his former glory?
Joe Girardi gave Chapman far too many chances in the later innings after he already had shown signs of falling off the deep end. Chapman’s command is off and when he can locate a fastball for a strike, it is getting crushed.
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Of course “Binder Joe” sent Chapman out in the ninth inning because “he is our closer.” The more that Chapman went out to prove himself, the more he ended up proving just why the Binder doesn’t work.
So the Yankees have been trying a new method and it’s the best way to get back the Chapman the Yankees trust and love in the ninth inning.
That method is bringing in Chapman earlier in the game, where the stakes aren’t quite as high. Chapman had the adrenaline pumping too much in the ninth, overthrowing the ball consistently. Once he couldn’t locate the ball, he would leave a 100 MPH meatball right down the middle, welcoming any decent hitter to give it a ride.
He’s given up two home runs and five hits in his last four appearances. Chapman just doesn’t look comfortable finishing out the game for the Yankees. And for the contract they’re paying him, they certainly can’t bench him.
So they’re doing what they can. He needs to get his confidence, his swagger back. He needs to get his reps in, just not in the big moments.
The Yankees are marching towards the playoffs. Now is the crucial time where games are won in the later innings. Now is NOT the time for Chapman to be blowing games at the last second.
The Yankees have the options to sub in at closer. They have David Robertson, an experienced closer in the Bronx spotlight. They have Dellin Betances, who filled in the role with impressive poise last year.
Some would say to simply give up on Chapman. With the money hanging over his head, you can’t do that. More importantly, with Chapman’s skillset, the Yankees will need him down the line.
When he’s on his game, he’s the best in the game. Right now, he is off, particularly in close games. By putting him in the game earlier where the pressure isn’t as severe, they are conditioning him to be more confident in his own skills.
That’s what he needs right now: confidence. In order to develop that confidence, he needs to be in lower-leverage situations and work his way back up.
His skills are not a fluke. He will regain that form he’s been known for during his entire career. It just is going to take some time.
During that time, Chapman cannot be in the ninth. The Yankees are right in starting him off slow and bringing him back strong. That’s what needs to be done in order to bring their closer back.
They have the weapons to compensate for Chapman’s struggles. But ultimately, they need him back. Throw away the binder and put your closer in during the sixth or seventh. You’ll thank me later.