The Yankees continue to suffer from a lot of injuries, and now they are facing the possibility that Aroldis Chapman may not return in 2018.
Aaron Boone welcomed Gary Sanchez back into the lineup this weekend, but the New York Yankees still have several big name stars on the disabled list. All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman is quickly shooting up the list of the team’s worries, as it’s distinctly possible that his knee issues might cost him the remainder of the season.
Brian Cashman has his “fingers crossed” that Chapman will come back soon, but he admits there are no guarantees. In particular, the organization is concerned that the knee tendonitis might flare up again if he tries to return too soon. That makes projecting a return date for the Cuban closer pretty tricky.
It’s very likely Chapman’s injury cost the Yankees one game this week. Dellin Betances blew a save against the Tigers that certainly would have been Chapman’s game if he was healthy. There’s no certainty he would have closed the game out, but he’s got a strong track record of converting save opportunities for the club. Despite Betances’ one bad outing, the Yankees to have the bullpen depth to make sure Chapman’s absence doesn’t sink the club’s playoff chances.
Zach Britton was acquired, in part, to protect against the possibility of Chapman missing time. He hasn’t pitched very well as a Yankee, but team officials believe his stuff is starting to come around. If he can get in a groove by the time October arrives, he might be Boone’s preferred option to close games.
That honor could also go to David Robertson. He’s also got extensive injury closing games at the major league level. His ERA is a little higher than normal this season, but hitters are still struggling to get hits against him on a regular basis. He closed one game out for the team this weekend and will remain an option for Boone moving forward.
Expect the Yankees to play Chapman’s return pretty cautiously. The organization’s only goal is to get him back for the playoffs. That’s when the threat of him in the bullpen can really strike fear in opponents. Time will tell whether or not the closer can make it back to aid the Yankees in October.