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Andrew Miller Named Yankees Closer After Aroldis Chapman's Suspension

New York Yankees reliever Andrew Miller winds up for a pitch during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015, at Fenway Park, in Boston. The Yankees won 3-1. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Steven Senne/Associated Press
Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistMarch 2, 2016

New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman confirmed Wednesday that Andrew Miller will once again serve as the team's closer until Aroldis Chapman returns from his 30-game suspension.

Bryan Hoch of MLB.com passed along Cashman's response after the question about the ninth-inning role was raised, and he stated Miller will "absolutely" be the choice.

Miller racked up 36 saves while posting a 2.04 ERA last season. Hoch noted Miller hadn't been made aware of the decision:

The choice doesn't come as any surprise. Miller, a failed starter earlier in his career, has followed a similar path as Wade Davis of the Kansas City Royals to become one of the league's most dominant relievers over the past couple of years.

Garion Thorne of the Fantasy Sports Network highlighted the fantasy implications for Miller:

Dellin Betances was equally impressive in 2015 en route to a 1.50 ERA with an eye-popping 131 strikeouts in 84 innings. He should move back into the chief setup role while Chapman is out.

The suspension actually raises more long-term questions than short-term ones. Miller and Betances should fill the void just fine, but the uncertainty is what happens when Chapman is set to return after he was named the closer back in January.

If the Yankees' other relievers shine in his absence, does the team still force him directly into the ninth-inning slot anyway? If so, there will be a lot of pressure on him to succeed right out of the gate, or a controversy could begin to brew.

New York may be better off working him back into live action slowly—perhaps rotating the eighth inning with Betances at the outset—and ensuring he's back to his usual electric self before giving him the closer role back once the suspension ends.

That's a decision for early May, though. A lot will depend on how Miller and Betances perform in the meantime. If all three of them stay healthy and pitch up to their usual standards, it's hard to imagine there will be a more successful bullpen in 2016, regardless of who fills which role.

 

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