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Around the Empire: Yankees news - 7/11/21

Aaron Boone flexible with closer role; Brian Cashman updates trade deadline strategy; Gerrit Cole feeling reflective; Nestor Cortes has the secret sauce

New York Mets v New York Yankees - Game One Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

New York Post | Dan Martin: The Yankees officially have an Aroldis Chapman problem. After getting off to a historic start, the Yankees closer has been borderline unplayable. He has given up nine earned runs in his last four outings across only 2.1 innings. The velocity and spin rate are down considerably, and his command has gone missing for innings at a time.

Things have gotten so bad that the Yankees recently went to Chad Green for a save while Chapman irons out his problems. Aaron Boone maintains that Chapman is the team’s closer, and will get the ball in future save situations. That said, he also added that the team will remain flexible with ninth inning responsibilities in the near-future.

Newsday | Erik Boland: The Yankees’ approach to the trade deadline, and their season in general, hang in the balance of the next few days ... at least, according to Brian Cashman. Speaking with Newsday, he revealed that the Yankees’ decision on whether they will be buyers or sellers at the deadline will be made during and immediately following the All-Star break. They have eight games in 11 days against the Red Sox as they get into the make-or-break portion of the season. | Bryan Hoch: Gerrit Cole made his return to Houston yesterday evening for the first time since signing with the Yankees. Speaking with Bryan Hoch prior to his start, Cole confessed some nostalgia for pitching in Houston and shared his happiness in reconnecting with some of the staff at Minute Maid Park. He didn’t let those sentimental feelings get in the way of his performance however, dealing a dominant complete game two-hit shutout in the Yankees 1-0 win.

Hoch also provided an update on the Yankees’ Fueling Our Future initiative, which launched on Friday. The initiative aims to serve seventh and eighth graders from the DREAM Charter School in the Bronx by teaching health and wellness skills. The program features Yankees employees who will give guidance on mental health, physical fitness, and healthy eating. | Randy Miller: Boone and Nestor Cortes provide some insight into the lefty’s success so far with the Yankees. Cortes has been quite a revelation in his second stint in New York, with a 1.05 ERA and 31 percent strikeout rate in 25.2 innings. Boone claims he always knew Cortes had it in him to perform at this level, with the manager confirming his confidence in the crafty southpaw to pitch in any situation.

Cortes admits that he did not make major changes. Instead, he credits self-belief and confidence as the keys to his success. They allow him to stay in control better and really attack the zone. In terms of measurables, Cortes’ fastball is up a tick or two, while both Boone and Cortes credit its late rising life in getting whiffs. Throw on top all of the arm angle changes and variations in windup timing and it makes for one uncomfortable at-bat if you’re a hitter.