Yankees and Aroldis Chapman are finally moving towards a role change for 2022
Is Aroldis Chapman still closest to the New York Yankees? Yes. Most days. You can take this to the bank. Except when it’s closed on weekends.
But, for the first time we can remember, Aaron Boone told the New York Post and the Gathered Media this week that the Yankees had spoken with the ninth-inning stalwart and sometimes planned to deploy him in the eighth inning as well.
Demotion? Far from it, unfortunately. According to Boone, this was seen as a quick and dirty way to relieve other tired arms and maximize Chapman’s usefulness. If, say, a week goes by without a perfect opportunity to deploy him, Boone would rather use his closer in a tight game in the eighth than in the ninth inning of a 12-1 game.
In the past, this apparent inflexibility and deference to Chapman has led to a buildup of rust over the season – not to mention the severe depletion of other late-inning options, which was evident in Chad Green’s profile and not so clear on Jonathan Loaisiga’s ledger (until he got injured, of course).
The explicit reason behind the change? Boone might want to load in right-handed arms for the right-heavy Blue Jays and, say, use Chapman the day before while resting Loaisiga and Green.
The implicit reason? Maybe it’s time we all got a little less rigid with our closer roles in case, say, Chapman struggles.
Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman will pitch the eighth inning sometime in 2022.
At the very least, Chapman’s deal ends after 2022, so it’s time to start getting our house in order. Whether or not you believe Jonathan Loaisiga is the next contender for the throne, a little flexibility never hurt anyone.
Whether the perception is right or not, it always seemed that Chapman’s stubbornness would hamper any wiggle room here. Now, apparently, that’s not true.
Chapman’s 2021 season was his weirdest season yet in pinstripes — and that includes two years that ended with him on the playoff mound. He was more dominant than we had ever seen (somehow) in April and May, showing off a splitter that was arguably deadlier than his fastball from his 104 MPH days.
Then things fell apart – “things” meaning her fingernail? Who knows? We’ll never know. The enigmatic Chapman has never made it more than 75% of the way to the top of the mountain at any time of the year, and the screaming nature of its midsummer collapse gave us the impression that the moment had already come to exchange Loaisiga in there. permanently.
That won’t happen in 2022 either. But at least both teams have recognized that, when it makes sense, Chapman will be executed earlier than the ninth and Loaisiga will attack a Toronto lineup he’s uniquely suited to level.