Not even a full season into signing a five-year, $86MM contract – a record deal for a reliever – Aroldis Chapman is out as the Yankees’ closer, manager Joe Girardi announced Saturday, per Erik Boland of Newsday (Twitter link). The move isn’t necessarily permanent, however, but a measure to “try and get him right,” said Girardi, who revealed that Chapman reacted well to the news. One of the most dominant relievers of all-time, the 29-year-old flamethower hasn’t been himself this season, as his pedestrian ERA (4.29), plummeting strikeout percentage and falling swinging-strike rate indicate. Chapman’s also amid arguably the worst stretch of his illustrious career, one in which he has yielded two earned runs in three straight appearances for the first time, and made a couple mental errors in the Yankees’ loss to the Red Sox on Friday. Chapman was responsible for a double steal when he neglected to keep tabs on the Red Sox’s runners on first and second base, and he then failed to back up home plate on a two-run single by Jackie Bradley Jr. Those slip-ups led to an animated mound visit from Girardi, who figures to turn to David Robertson and Dellin Betances as his ninth-inning choices while Chapman attempts to overcome his struggles in a different role. (Follow @CloserNews, MLBTR’s sister Twitter site, for more on the Yankees’ late-game configuration and news about all ninth-inning situations around the majors.)
A bit more on the Yankees, who will try to avoid falling six games behind Chris Sale-led Boston for the AL East lead on Saturday:
- It was either the Yankees or the Orioles who claimed right-hander Marco Estrada off waivers from the division-rival Blue Jays earlier this week, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Regardless, Estrada isn’t going anywhere because the Jays were unable to agree to a trade with the claiming team within the 48-hour window.
- Estrada would’ve been a quality reinforcement for the Yankees’ rotation (or Baltimore’s), but the Bombers will get some in-house help on that front. Masahiro Tanaka, on the disabled list since last Saturday with shoulder inflammation, is set to make his return Tuesday against Detroit, Girardi informed reporters (Twitter link via Boland). Rotation mate C.C. Sabathia will come off the 10-day DL and start in Boston tonight. Friday’s starter, rookie Jordan Montgomery, is headed back to Triple-A to make room for Sabathia, the team announced.