Aroldis Chapman has faced issues lately. 1 game he walked the bases loaded, was granted the gift of Aaron Hicks and got out of it. The next outing loses the 1 run lead off a 102 mph fastball to 20 year old rookie Rafael Devers who knocks it over the left center field wall. The first outing, he could not get any pitch over the plate, in his second outing, he refused to throw another pitch than his fastball and was eventually taken Yahtzee and later lost the game in the 10th.
Was Chapman wrong in his thinking? Any one of these would sufficed in my opinion: I have the greatest arm in the MLB, I can blow it by anyone, this is a 20 year old rookie he has never seen this before" – probably all makes sense….Except when you imagine the fire coming out of the bullpen in Betances the inning before, and Sale consistently hitting 98, 99 the entire game including his last pitch at over 110 pitches hitting 99 – his fastest of the game reportedly. Suddenly the 100 / 101 / 103 is will make that that cannon arm feel near as deadly.
Hitter’s timing, fielder’s timing has all been jump started the entire game and that is where it is important to know how to PITCH and not just THROW. Chapman throws hard, he throws the hardest, he is also probably the closer in baseball who understands the least about pitching. He understands the least on being able to mix locations, change rotations, and varying velocity to keep a hitter off balance. There was not one person in the entire stadium who had a doubt that he was going to use his booming fastball after getting Ramirez on 3 straight, and being ahead in the count 1-2 after 3 fastballs to to the young rookie. At a young age you’re taught hitter’s in high school adjust game to game, hitter’s in college at bat to at bat, and when you reach the professional stages, you adjust pitch to pitch. As a former college player who topped out around 87-88, mixing speeds was what I HAD to rely on to be effective, guys could pretty much sneeze after I have released the ball and still had time to regain composure and make a halfway decent swing. Chapman is finding himself in that same situation where he needs to start changing the speeds.
That's not to say he has gone fastball happy, that was just an example. Over the last week he has shown he clings to one pitch and one pitch only when he does not have the feel for anything else. When Chapman does not have at least 2 pitches working, he is no longer effective. His slider is not THAT good; when he cannot control his fastball (which we saw last night against the Mets) he relies on only the slider and gets knocked around (2 run HR in the 9th). When he doesn’t have the slider, hitter’s will sit fastball (Dever’s) because that is the only thing he will throw. He does not know how to adjust, even if it is a "show me" pitch just for the hitter to see something different.
I don’t think it has anything to do with "being over used" or a "world series hangover" I think 105 is not available all the time, the rest of the league has found rocket arms as well, and hitters are now able to hit it. Time to learn to pitch, time for you to adjust just as the rest of the league has done to you Chapman - Time to put your pride aside, and go to work in order to regain effectiveness. As far as I am concerned it was a matter of time before this happened even with the Reds.