Yankees' Aroldis Chapman Diagnosed with COVID-19, Experiencing 'Mild Symptoms'

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJuly 11, 2020

New York Yankees relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman delivers against the Oakland Athletics during the ninth inning of a baseball game, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone announced Saturday that closer Aroldis Chapman tested positive for COVID-19.

According to James Wagner of the New York Times, Boone said Chapman is experiencing "mild symptoms." Wagner wrote Chapman won't be back with the team in summer camp for the "foreseeable future."

Chapman is the third known Yankees player to test positive for the coronavirus since the start of summer camp, joining second baseman DJ LeMahieu and pitcher Luis Cessa.

The 2020 MLB season was originally slated to begin in March, but that didn't happen because of the coronavirus pandemic. Teams last week began gathering for spring training 2.0, however, and the season is set to begin in less than two weeks.

On July 23, the Yankees and Washington Nationals will play the opening game of the season, but it is possible New York will be without its closer.

The 32-year-old Chapman is a six-time All-Star who is coming off one of his best seasons, as he went 3-2 with 37 saves and a 2.21 ERA in 57 innings. As a result, he was named the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year.

The lefty flamethrower also struck out 13.4 batters per nine innings last season and owns a career strikeout rate of 14.8 per nine, making him one of the most dominant relievers of his era.

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Being without Chapman at the start of the season would be a blow for the Yankees, especially since every game will count that much more in the shortened 60-game season. New York does arguably have the best and deepest bullpen in the game, however.

If Chapman misses time, Zack Britton would be the top candidate to fill in as closer. Britton had a 1.91 ERA last season and was previously a closer for the Baltimore Orioles for four-plus seasons. In 2016, he led the American League with 47 saves and boasted a 0.54 ERA.

Adam Ottavino could be next in line after posting a 1.90 ERA last season, and he would be followed by Chad Green, Tommy Kahnle and Jonathan Holder.

If there is any team that can avoid the temporary loss of one of its top relievers, the Yankees are it.

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