It’s been a rough season for Yankees relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman.
Chapman signed a five-year, $86 million contract to return to New York as a free agent after being traded to the Chicago Cubs just before last season’s trade deadline. But he’s hardly lived up to the expectations of his big contract, missing considerable time due to rotator cuff inflammation in his left shoulder and struggling since his return.
Chapman allowed two runs in a non-save situation Friday night against the Boston Red Sox and has allowed a run in four consecutive appearances. He’s also allowed two runs in three consecutive appearances and is averaging an uncharacteristic 4.29 ERA in 35 and 2/3 innings this season.
That was enough for him to lose the closer role, at least for the time being, Yankees manager Joe Girardi announced on Saturday afternoon.
With the Yankees in the middle of a postseason race, a move needed to be made with Chapman struggling recently. New York’s other relief pitchers have been outstanding this season, including Dellin Betances (9 saves, 2.11 ERA) and David Robertson (14 saves, 2.19 ERA), who are the most likely replacements to nab the closer role.
New York could use Chapman in low-leverage middle innings situations while he returns to form from his recent slump. Overall, Chapman is 16 for 20 in save situations and his strikeout rate is a career low 12.6 K/9 in 2017. While that’s still impressive, it’s a downslide from his 15.0 K/9 career average.
New York currently trails the Red Sox by four games in the AL East and currently has a 3.5 game lead for the top AL Wild Card spot.