clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Yankees leave Aroldis Chapman off playoff roster and set rotation

Gerrit Cole will get the Game 1 nod against the Guardians on Tuesday.

Toronto Blue Jays v New York Yankees Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

As the 2022 regular season neared its conclusion, there were serious, highly-justified questions about whether or not the Yankees would even roster their most expensive reliever on the team. For better or for worse, he has been a pivotal part of the story of the Yankees for the past seven years.

Acquiring Chapman from the Reds in the first place came under intense scrutiny given his forthcoming domestic violence suspension. Trading him to the Cubs for then-prospect Gleyber Torres helped push the Yankees’ rebuild into overdrive. Re-signing Chapman as closer brought him to the forefront of several playoff moments in the Aaron Judge Era, sometimes for good but more memorably, not so much. With the threat of an opt-out looming, they re-signed him to an extension through the end of 2022, even after he coughed up the Jose Altuve homer that cut the 103-win 2019 team’s season short.

The wheels began to come off for Chapman with the Mike Brosseau ALDS homer that finished off 2020 in an eerily similar fashion. He rebounded with a sensational first couple months to 2021 but from the middle of June onward, he had a 5.40 ERA and 5.75 FIP while averaging almost a walk per inning. In the final year of his contract in 2022, Chapman was more unreliable than ever, quickly losing his job as closer to the ascendant Clay Holmes with poor results and terrible control, and spending two separate stints on the IL — first for an Achilles injury (fine) and then for a leg infection that came about from a tattoo (not fine).

The saga of this year seems to have been the last straw for the Yankees with Chapman. It reached its breaking point on Friday. After the regular season ended on Wednesday, he was due to throw live batting practice two days later and never showed up. Instead, he was in Miami with “an unacceptable excuse.” He will not be on the playoff roster.

It’s pretty damning of the Yankees’ evaluation process that they continued to roster someone who wasn’t fully invested in the team and was pitching terribly anyway. They even seemed prepared to offer him a Division Series roster spot if he simply looked decent during pre-ALDS workouts. But that’s what happened.

As Yankees fans, we must simply be thankful that Chapman took the decision into his own hands. New York may end up losing in the playoffs eventually due to a bad pitch from a reliever, but it at least it won’t be the same old story as 2019 and 2020. Even with Ron Marinaccio’s injury and each of Holmes, Wandy Peralta, and Miguel Castro working their way back from their own recent ailments, there were better options to roster than Chapman. Now, it seems like his Yankees chapter is finally over. (Josh already essentially wrote its obit, and it’s a good read.)

The Chapman news will catch the most headlines of the day, but manager Aaron Boone also announced the ALDS rotation:

After setting a new franchise record for the most strikeouts in a single season with 257, Gerrit Cole will get the ball in Game 1 against the Guardians on Tuesday. Due to Cole’s home run woes throughout 2022 though, there was serious deliberation about whether or not someone like the All-Star Nestor Cortes or the resurgent former ace Luis Severino should pitch the opener instead. But the Yankees opted to stay the course here and go with the guy who they paid to start the biggest games. I probably would’ve gone with Cortes myself, but as the Erik Boland article in today’s news roundup remarked, the Yankees would have been in a better position than most teams with any of those three arms.

New York did not announce any starters for a possible Game 4 or 5 yet. Assuming no rainouts, Cole would be on full rest for Game 4, but Cortes would only have three days for Game 5. There was a compelling argument that Cortes should’ve started Game 1 if not only because Cole has relatively recent experience coming back on short rest in a do-or-die game. Of course, in a potential Game 5, teams employ the old “all hands on deck” approach anyway, so everyone would be available to relieve Cortes (or perhaps a fourth starter like Jameson Taillon) if necessary.

The easy answer is to just sweep the Guardians behind Cole, Cortes, and Sevy in three and make this whole process as stress-free as possible. Does that sound like a good plan? Because I think that it sounds grand.