Bronx, NY – Again the center of attention was the Yankees Aaron Judge Friday evening in the Bronx. He reached base three times and will try again Saturday to surpass the Roger Maris AL season home run record of 61. Judge also fell to second in batting in quest of the first American League Triple Crown since 2012.
Having clinched the AL East division this week up in Toronto, the Yankees are also playing out the string and came up short against the Orioles, 2-1. The final six games of the season are all about Boone and his coaching staff plotting out a roster that will begin the best-of-five AL Division Series at Yankee Stadium October 11th.
The pitching rotation is one component to the equation as are position players and the task has started as these final games play out. That important bullpen is another part of the postseason roster equation.
But Friday night that bullpen equation, or if you want to call this a situation, got more difficult for the Yankees manager. A week after being activated after undergoing Tommy John Surgery, Zack Britton threw a wild pitch in the sixth inning and left the game with left arm fatigue.
Clay Holmes is unavailable due to right shoulder strain and there is no certainty he will be available for the first two games of the ALDS. Still uncertain, is the status of Wandy Peralta who is eligible to come off the injured list on October 4.
Though, Aroldis Chapman who lost his role as the closer, is certain to be a part of that bullpen equation. Chapman tossed a scoreless eighth inning and has not allowed a run in 14 of his last 16 outings, posting a 1.84 ERA.
Chapman has shown signs of possibly returning to that closer role as Boone continues to go with what he calls a committee, though that remains to be certain. If Chapman can continue to throw scoreless innings, with consistency, he could again be the bullpen stopper.
In the eighth inning, Chapman also picked off Rougned Odor at first base.
“He didn’t have his great fastball,” Boone said about Chapman. “Came in and fell behind, and was still able to navigate to get back in the count. He made some pitches. On a night when he didn’t necessarily have his really good stuff, he was able to navigate”
And all of that was important for Chapman. It was progress for the left- hander who had control issues and two stints on the injured list. But an effective Aroldis Chapman, in particular as the closer or late inning reliever, will be a major boost for the Yankees as they head to the postseason.
“We’re trying to get them all healthy and ready,” Boone said. “We still feel we have really good options down there. There’s no use crying about what you do or don’t have. You’ve got to make the most of what you do. The reality is, we still have a lot of talented guys down there.”
In essence, Chapman is the key here. He always was and again there are signs of consistency which adds to all positives down in that Yankees bullpen if the consequences say Holmes, Britton, or Peralta are not available for the postseason.
There are also the bullpen equations that include Scott Effross, Jonathan Loáisiga (Latino Sports 2021 AL MVP Reliever Award), Ron Marinaccio, and Lou Trivino. Effross pitched a scoreless ninth inning and 10 of his 12 outings since joining the Yankees have been scoreless.
Again, though, the final games will be the determining factor and more so as issues continue to hinder the Yankees bullpen.
Yes, the focus will be centered on Aaron Judge with a historic and imminent home run record. But this Yankees bullpen needs to be efficient and healthy as they plan to play deep and far this month in the postseason.
Rich Mancuso is a senior writer @Latinosports.com. Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com Watch “Sports with Rich” live on Tuesday Nights at 8pm EST on The SLG Network/Youtube with Robert Rizzo Available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify under The SLG Network.
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