The Yankees announced this evening that closer Aroldis Chapman has been placed on the 15-day injured list due to left Achilles tendinitis. Catcher Kyle Higashioka is back from the COVID-19 injured list to fill the active roster spot.
Chapman has been dealing with Achilles issues of late, although manager Aaron Boone told reporters yesterday that an MRI had come back clean. The skipper suggested an IL stint remained in play, though, and that’ll ultimately come to fruition. Whether because of the nagging foot discomfort or merely a coincidental cold streak, Chapman seems due for a reset. He’s allowed runs in each of his past five outings, taking the loss in two of those appearances.
That came on the heels of a stretch of 12 straight scoreless games to open the year. Through May 9, the southpaw had tossed 10 1/3 run-free frames while holding opponents to a .111/.256/.139 slash line. In the two weeks since then, he’s allowed six runs in 3 2/3 innings and been hit at a .474/.522/.947 clip. Chapman’s average fastball velocity has lost around a mile and a half per hour relative to last season, leaving the 34-year-old to try to rediscover his prior form once he returns to health.
In spite of Chapman’s recent struggles, the Yankees have had a customarily strong bullpen. New York relievers rank fourth league-wide in ERA (3.10) and seventh in strikeout/walk rate differential (16.6 percentage points). The Yankees did lose Chad Green to Tommy John surgery, but Michael King and Clay Holmes have shown signs of blossoming into elite high-leverage arms this season. They join Jonathan Loáisiga and Wandy Peralta among Boone’s most important bullpen arms while Chapman is out.
Higashioka was one of three players whom the Yankees have placed on the virus list in recent days. Outfielder Joey Gallo and third baseman Josh Donaldson joined him in experiencing flu-like symptoms, but Higashioka has apparently tested negative and is feeling better this evening than he had over the weekend.