Monday, August 14, 2017


"Chappy was really good in the 9th. He only made one mistake... He’s my closer.’’
--Joe Girardi after latest Cuban missile crisis blew up in his face.

The problem is the margin for error is different for a closer than it is for any other reliever or a starter. That's why they get the big bucks. And this season our closer Aroldis "The Missile" Chapman has been making way too many for anyone not to cringe when he steps on the field to try converting an alleged "save" opportunity.

Photo: Getty Images
If not for a highlight reel catch-throw-and-tag double play pulled off by Hicks and Frazier Friday saving his bacon, the Missile would have  another blown save weighing down his nosediving stats and very likely the full blame for two-thirds  of a series sweep to Boston hanging around his neck.

As it stands, he put his monogram all over the blown series finale on Sunday when he coughed up the game-tying dinger in the 9th on Sunday to a lefty -- for just the second time in his career -- and then proceeded to plunk Boston's lead off batter in the 10th on an 0-2 pitch -- who happened to be the ninth batter in the Red Sox lineup.

Photo: Getty Images
Then he put him in scoring position by throwing four balls in five pitches to ex-Yank Eduardo Nunez  -- whose walk rate ranks 9th worst  of 157 qualified hitters. And with no outs and the meat of the Boston order coming up, Joe did what he does best -- allow the arsonist to flee the scene of the fire and brag to the burned-out neighbors afterward how he conserved the water in their hoses.

According to the Daily News, "Girardi pulled him for Tommy Kahnle at that point, but insisted it was only because he’d thrown 26 pitches and didn’t want to push him too far. 'I don’t think Chappy gets rattled,' Girardi said. He sure didn’t look the same after hitting Bradley, but in any case, the wildness wound up costing the Yankees the game when Kahnle gave up a go-ahead single to Andrew Benintendi."

Photo: Getty Images
There are are now nine Yankees who have pitched in relief this season with lower ERAs than Chapman's 3.43.

But it gets worse. The higher-leverage the situation, the higher  Chapman's ERA skyrockets. In the ninth inning and later, its 3.62. In the ninth inning alone, it's 4.00.  In scoring position with two outs, it's 5.79. In scoring position with less than two outs, it's 8.25.

Photo: Getty Images
He's one blown save shy of equalling his career high of 5 which he reached twice with the Reds in seasons he registered more than twice as many saves as the 15 he's currently rung up for the Yankees, and his WHIP and K rate are hovering near their career high and low, respectively.

You can't blame him. He still reaches back like a warrior giving his all to find that 104 mph heat. But more often than not it's wild or straight as an arrow when he does, and more often than not he winds up in extended counts and elongated innings and suddenly he's sitting around 100, which for him is a quite a drop.  He was rode hard and put away late by the Cubs before he returned to the Yankees, he was on the DL for a month and his stuff simply hasn't been the same before and especially since.

Photo: Getty Images
Next year, back on a regular schedule and throwing program after a nice long winter and spring to recuperate, hopefully he'll get it all back. But this season, he's just not all that as a closer. And with DRob, Dellin and TKay doing better -- along with, not to mention, a handful of other arms in the pen -- it seems ridiculous for Joe to not at least consider juggling the order of the pages in his binder a little bit to give Chappy some lower leverage innings or, perhaps, at least consider giving him a quicker hook when he struggles.

Because as absurd as it sounds, on a team sporting a binder full of closers we've got trouble in the closer spot.

But we've got much bigger trouble if our manager can't admit recognize it's a trouble spot; that time isn't on his side, and that he has all the means any manager could ever ask for at hand to fix it immediately.

Photo: Getty Images
Burn your damn binder, Joe, and use common sense for a change. Brian and Hal didn't load up your pen with closers because they make nice middle relievers. Use 'em or lose 'em and give Aroldis a break.

Personally, I'd start by giving that guy with the old-school high socks first crack.

--Barry Millman
BYB Writer
Follow me on Twitter: @nyyankeefanfore

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