Yankees Closer Returns From Injured List

After hitting the shelf with a leg infection stemming from a poorly recovering tattoo, the Yankees will have their closer back, officially calling up lefty Aroldis Chapman to rejoin their bullpen.

Before the injury, Chapman was enduring one of the toughest slumps of his career, negating a strong (although injury-plagued) first half with terrible control and becoming practically unusable in the Yankees bullpen. The famously critical Bronx fanbase turned on him in a heartbeat too, so the time off may have been a blessing in disguise, both to help him regain his form and to get him out of the spotlight for a few weeks. After finishing his rehab stint in Somerset for the team’s Double-A affiliate, though, he’ll be headed back to the big league team, hopefully to provide some reinforcements for a Yankees club which has gone from unbeatable to nosediving since the All-Star break. One reason for their decline is the injury bug, which led to them fielding one of the most stacked Double-A teams in history on the 11th.

Chapman has never had excellent command of his pitches, and has been prone to walks and homers because of it, but he has managed to remain a top-level closer through his career with his ability to get hitters to strike out, through his explosive delivery, long stride, and nasty pitches. The 5 year, $86 million contract he signed in 2016 made him the highest-paid reliever in history at the time. 

At 34 years old, though, he is most likely approaching a permanent stage of decline. If that’s the case, the Yankees will be glad his contract expires at the end of this season, and that they got most of his best years and none of his worst. For now, though, Chapman’s ability to pitch like he has in the past is going to go a long way in determining both his next contract and the success of the Yankees’ playoff run.

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