Aroldis Chapman Reinstated as Yankees Closer

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistSeptember 9, 2017

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 25: Aroldis Chapman #54 of the New York Yankees in action during a game against the Seattle Mariners at Yankee Stadium on August 25, 2017 in the Bronx borough of New York City. The Mariners defeated the Yankees 2-1. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

After losing the job to Dellin Betances, Aroldis Chapman is back in the role of New York Yankees closer.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi announced Chapman will handle ninth-inning duties—at least for Saturday's game against the Texas Rangers—per baseball writer Max Wildstein.

The Yankees signed Chapman to a five-year, $86 million contract in December—the richest deal for a reliever in MLB history.

Unfortunately for New York, the left-hander has struggled—at least when compared to the standard he had set in previous seasons—throughout the 2017 campaign. His 4.02 ERA is a career high, while his 2.89 FIP is nearly a run higher than his career average (1.98), according to Baseball Reference. Chapman's 12.5 strikeouts per nine innings are also on pace to be the fewest of his career.

Though Chapman has taken a step backward, Yankees relievers are second in the majors in FIP (3.48), per FanGraphs. Not only does New York have Betances and David Robertson—both proven alternatives for the closer job—but Tommy Kahnle, Chad Green and others have stood out.

Girardi signaled he could be flexible with his choice to finish games.

"I'm hoping to lock it down to one guy. I think it's important that we try to do that," he said, per the New York Daily News' Mike Mazzeo. "But I don't think it's the worst thing in the world to have those three arms down there. And you mix and match. That's not the worst thing in the world, but you'd kind of like to lock it down."

Andrew Miller was the 2016 American League Championship Series MVP after pitching 7.2 scoreless innings with 14 strikeouts for the Cleveland Indians against the Toronto Blue Jays and demonstrated how valuable an elite arm can be in a setup or middle relief role.

There's no question Chapman will be a key cog for the Yankees down the stretch and in the postseason if they maintain their hold on the first wild-card spot, and maybe Girardi will get creative with his usage of the four-time All-Star.