When Aaron Boone called on Aroldis Chapman in the ninth inning of Saturday afternoon’s game, he expected an easy finish from his closer. Instead, the left-hander nearly cost the Yankees the second game of the Subway Series.
Chapman had no feel for the strike zone whatsoever. The 30-year-old faced five batters and failed to record an out. He allowed three walks, a single, and hit a batter. Chapman departed from the game having thrown 19 pitches, with only three registering as strikes. It wasn’t like the umpires squeezed him, either. He just had no idea where the ball was going.
In another troubling development, Chapman’s velocity seemed a notch or two below his usual level. His average fourseam fastball velocity in 2018 sits at 99.73 mph. He didn’t come particularly close on several of his pitches today. That’s alarming.
Following the game, Boone chalked the performance up to rust. Chapman just wrote it off as a bad day. “I feel good, it was just a bad outing,’’ he told the New York post. “That’s all.” Neither attributed the clunker to Chapman’s knee tendinitis.
I am willing to give Boone and Chapman the benefit of the doubt here. The southpaw has been nothing but electric this season, pitching to a 2.03 ERA (1.81 FIP) over 40 innings. His 15.30 K/9 rate is actually above his career norm. It’s not like this has been a trend for Chapman.
Still, the alarm bells went off at Yankee Stadium this afternoon. Erratic control is a byproduct of rust. The diminished velocity, however, could point to something more concerning. Hopefully the Yankees can get another look at him soon.
What did you make of Chapman’s outing? Did it concern you, or do you think it’s no big deal? Let us know in the comment section below!