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What the Aroldis Chapman suspension means for the Opening Day bullpen

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Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

Major League Baseball has announced the suspension of Aroldis Chapman, and now the Yankees will be without their closer for the first month of the season. Chapman will be around this spring, but since he won't be able to break camp with the team, it means someone else will make the team instead. It really means a lot for a few players.

Andrew Miller will start the year as closer

Andrew Miller doesn't care who closes for the Yankees, but after serving as a respectable closer in 2015, he'll likely do it again to start the 2016 season. Maybe he will just keep the role warm for Chapman until he returns on May 9th, but there's at least a chance the role is left up for grabs by then. The Yankees named David Robertson the closer in 2012 before Rafael Soriano took the role from him when he went down with an injury. Dellin Betances was in line to take over the closer role in 2015 before Miller nabbed the job in the first place. The Yankees have proven they have no loyalty to the closer role since Mariano Rivera retired, so nothing is safe.

Jacob Lindgren will have a better chance

Between Chapman, Miller, and Shreve, the Yankees were likely to carry three left-handed relievers on Opening Day. Neither Chapman nor Miller were going to be used by Joe Girardi in lefty matchup situations, but the suspension could open up a spot on the team for an additional lefty. If the Yankees wanted another left-handed reliever, they would turn to Jacob Lindgren or James Pazos. As long as Lindgren is healthy, the team will give him every chance to win a spot on the roster and prove that he has a place in the majors. As a lefty, his main focus this spring will be to prove that he can get right-handed batters out in order to give himself a shot at a roster spot.

The bullpen competition won't be as intense

OK, maybe intense is a strong word, but it won't be as tough of a fight as it was projected to be. Chapman being suspended obviously means there's one more spot available on the roster than expected. If Betances, Miller, Shreve, and Ivan Nova were guaranteed spots, that gives the Yankees three more opening to play with. Branden Pinder, Nick Rumbelow, Nick Goody, Jacob Lindgren, James Pazos, and Johnny Barbato will all have a better chance of making the roster this spring. There's a good chance the Yankees don't look for another lefty, and instead pick up a few right-handed relievers. In the end, it likely comes down to performance in spring training than any kind of pedigree valuation.

The loss of Chapman over the first 30 games of the season won't have a huge impact on the bullpen when everything is said and done. The Yankees will likely allow their eighth best reliever to break camp with them, he'll be used sparingly, and then will return to the minors once Chapman returns. After his reinstatement, he'll bolster the backend of the bullpen, and it won't matter who pitches where out of the Big Three. The Yankees will have to make do with just Miller and Betances, which they accomplish all of last year, so the bullpen should be fine in the interim.