It was just a couple of weeks ago that New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman was named to his fifth All-Star team, but playing in the Bronx means he lives in a "What have you done for me lately?" world.
If he didn't know that before this weekend, he certainly does now.
Chapman entered Saturday's game against the New York Mets with a four-run lead in the ninth. He faced a total of five batters, throwing 19 pitches, with only three finding the strike zone. His final line? 0.0 innings pitched, one hit, three walks, one hit by pitch and three runs allowed. That ugly outing led to him getting booed off the mound.
For as many strikeouts as the hard-throwing southpaw piles up, he has always been prone to wildness. He has walked 4.0 batters per nine frames in his career and now has 19 in 40 innings this season.
Chapman pulled out of Tuesday's All-Star game due to tendinitis in his left knee. Rather than blame the injury for his struggles, the 30-year-old called it "just a bad day," via the Yes Network:
After all, he entered the day with a 1.35 ERA, a 0.825 WHIP and 26 saves in 27 opportunities. He had not allowed a run since July 1. As a result of his latest outing, his earned run average ballooned above 2.00 (2.03, to be exact) for the first time since April.
Fortunately for Chapman, Chasen Shreve was able to come in and save the day for the Yankees on Saturday, closing the door on a 7-6 victory. That helped minimize the impact of the rough outing.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone will need to keep an eye on Chapman for the time being. While it was only an exhibition that the reliever missed because of the knee injury, this was his first outing of the second half. If the Yankees are going to raise banner No. 28, having their shutdown closer healthy and effective will be key.
New York (63-34) currently sits five games behind the Boston Red Sox in the American League East, but it also has an 8.5-game lead in the wild-card race. That means the Yankees could take a cautious approach if it means getting Chapman healthy, should his struggles continue.