The Yankees currently have four relievers in their bullpen with history as closers, but right now, the one guy they’re relying on to be the closer continues to look shaky.
Aroldis Chapman, pitching for the first time since his implosion at Fenway Park, walked the first two batters he faced with a four-run lead in the ninth inning in Thursday’s 7-3 win over the Rangers in The Bronx.
Pitching with reduced velocity, Chapman was so off that pitching coach Larry Rothschild went to the mound after the first two batters reached, while Zach Britton started warming in the bullpen.
Chapman recovered and didn’t allow a run, but it was the latest red flag in a second half increasingly full of them from the All-Star left-hander and was cause for concern following a fourth straight win.
“I think he’s OK,” Boone said of Chapman, who has been bothered by left knee tendinitis. “He’s just fighting his command a little bit there. [He did a] good job battling through it, figuring it out and finding it on the fly there. I think physically he’s fine. We want to make sure we get to the bottom of it.”
Chapman hit 99 mph twice, but mostly sat at 95-96 and wasn’t available for comment afterward.
He got pinch-hitter Isiah Kiner-Falefa to ground out and then whiffed Shin-Soo Choo and Rougned Odor to get out of it, featuring a good slider.
If he had allowed another runner, Britton might have come in, since Chapman threw 39 pitches when he allowed three runs to the Red Sox on Sunday, but Boone said he intends to stick with Chapman as the closer.