7:06PM: The Yankees officially placed Chapman on the 15-day IL, retroactive to August 24.
6:14PM: The Yankees will place left-hander Aroldis Chapman on the 15-day injured list due to a leg infection, manager Aaron Boone told the YES Network’s Jack Curry (Twitter links) and other reporters.
Chapman last pitched on August 19, and Boone said part of that layoff has been due to the reliever’s battle with an infection that developed after Chapman got a leg tattoo. Boone stated that he believes Chapman will pitch again this season, but the lefty will now be out until at least the second week in September, even accounting for a few days of backdating on his IL placement.
The unusual injury adds to what has been a tough season for Chapman, who already missed over five weeks due to left Achilles tendinitis. By the time Chapman returned to the active roster, Clay Holmes had taken over as New York’s closer, leaving Chapman relegated to lower-leverage roles rather than even a solid set-up job. Since beginning his season with 10 1/3 scoreless innings, Chapman has struggled to a 7.08 ERA over his last 20 1/3 innings of work.
Even with Chapman far less than his usual effective self, his IL placement is another hit to a bullpen that has suddenly been crushed by injuries over the last couple of months. Holmes may be back from his own IL stint within a few days’ time, but Holmes and Chapman are joined by Scott Effross, Miguel Castro, Zack Britton, and Albert Abreu on the injured list, while Michael King and Chad Green have already been ruled out for the rest of the season. Wandy Peralta and Lucas Luetge are the only remaining left-handers in New York’s relief corps now that Chapman is out.
The Yankees entered Saturday’s action with a comfortable 8.5-game lead in the AL East, as an ongoing five-game winning streak has eased some concerns after a mediocre stretch of play since the All-Star break. Getting some of those injured relievers back before the playoffs will further bolster New York’s chances in October, but in Chapman’s case, the question must be asked whether the Yankees could conceivably leave him off a playoff roster altogether.
While Chapman is a seasoned playoff performer with a 2016 World Series ring to show from his time with the Cubs, he’ll need to return in good health and then deliver some consistent outings in September to clinch his spot for the postseason. This is also the last season of Chapman’s three-year, $48MM contract, so a platform for free agency is also undoubtedly on Chapman’s mind.