By: Billy Lewis
The New York Yankees have had a special 2017 season to date. Coming into the season there were plenty of question marks surrounding the team, and for the most part they have answered each and every one.
In the beginning of the year many people weren’t sure what to think of their playoff chances. Yet, here we are in the dog days of the summer, and the Yankees sit in the top Wild Card Spot and are right behind the Boston Red Sox in the American League East. The biggest strength of the team is the bullpen. Unfortunately, it seems that the biggest question also lies in the bullpen.
Aroldis Chapman has struggled this season. The flame-throwing closer has lost his command from time to time this year, and is far less dominant than we have seen in years past. Before this past weekend series against the Red Sox it appeared that Chapman had turned a corner.
Friday night the Yankees had an epic eighth inning comeback against the Sox. The Yankees scored five runs to erase a three-run deficit, and they handed Chapman a 5-3 lead. Chapman walked the bases loaded before getting a fortunate double play. Andrew Benintendi hit a sac fly and Eduardo Nunez was thrown out trying to move to third base. Chapman ended the game getting Mitch Moreland to fly out to center.
On Sunday night Chapman looked to be dealing. Chapman had a 2-1 lead to work with, and saw it disappear. Rookie Rafael Devers was able to take a 103 MPH to left centerfield and tie the game. Eventually the Red Sox would go on to win the game in 10 innings.
Unfortunately for Chapman his struggles continued against the crosstown rival, New York Mets. The Yankees gave Chapman a 5-2 lead Tuesday night. Another rookie, Amed Rosario, hit a two-run homer, but the Yankees held on to win 5-4.
Chapman was crouched on the mound after giving up the home run and looked like a pitcher that lost all confidence. Going forward Chapman is essential to the Yankees success. He appeared to tweak a hamstring going to cover first base on Tuesday. This could give the Yankees an easy excuse to put him on the 10 day DL and let him hit the reset button.
A DL stint could be just as important mentally, as it would be physically for Chapman. A week and a half away from baseball would let Chapman relax, and try to find his dominant form. The Yankees bullpen is one of the best in baseball, and if Chapman can return to being a lights out closer the Yankees have a very good chance to find themselves on top of the AL East when it is all said and done.