Now that the Yankees have officially brought Aroldis Chapman back, their stellar bullpen is in the same elite shape heading into next season.
For months now, rumors have swarmed around whether or not Aroldis Chapman would be toeing the rubber in Pinstripes next season. Late Saturday night, he silenced those doubts by signing a contract extension with a full no-trade clause that guarantees he will be a Yankee through the 2022 season.
The original deal Chapman signed with the Yankees in 2017 was a 5 year/$86 million dollar deal that still had 2 years and $34 million dollars left on it. The left-hander put pen to paper on a 3 year/$48 million dollar contract that essentially just added one year and $18 million dollars to the back end of his previous deal while upping the AAV of the deal from $15 to $16 million.
I know some people disagree with this move by the Yankee front office, especially after the outcome of the last pitch of the 2019 season; however, I couldn’t be more on board with this decision. Take a look at the team across the East River and you will instantly see how critical it is to have a closing pitcher that you can always rely on to come in and shut a game down–and that is exactly what Chapman does. He was nails this season recording 37 saves in 42 opportunities with a 2.21 ERA on his way to becoming the 2019 AL Reliever of the Year.
The critics of the Yankees’ closer have noted his decrease in velocity since the beginning of his second stint in the Bronx. The average velocity on Chapman’s fastball has decreased from 101 mph in 2017 to 98 mph in 2019 which, in turn, has increased his slider usage from 15 percent to 31 percent this year. The good news for Chapman and Yankee fans is that his slider has made massive improvements over the years and has become a nightmare to opposing hitters. Although his fastball has lost some velocity, Chapman has become a statistically better pitcher each year since he came back to the Yankees after closing out the 2016 World Series as a Chicago Cub:
2017: 3.22 ERA 1.13 WHIP 22 Saves 69 K’s 50.1 IP
2018: 2.45 ERA 1.05 WHIP 32 Saves 93 K’s 51.1 IP
2019: 2.21 ERA 1.10 WHIP 37 Saves 85 K’s 57 IP
As the fastball velocity the ‘Cuban Missile’ was known for has dipped, his command of the strike zone and ability to lean on that wipeout slider late in counts has helped him continue to dominate opposing hitters and maintain his status as one of the most dominant relievers in the game. Here’s to many more seasons listening to New York, New York following a strike out and stare down from Chappy.