The New York Yankees are gaining a little bit of momentum, no doubt helped out by a triple digit fastball from the recently released, Aroldis Chapman, in the closer role.
It was the bats and five solo home runs before the end of the third inning starting the action and Chapman’s blistering barrage of heat ending it in a 6-3 win over the Kansas City Royals. For one day, all was right for the struggling Yankees, who looked complete and dangerous over the defending World Series champions.
Of course, coming off of a series win over the Boston Red Sox, it hasn’t been just one day. New York is finally starting to compete with and defeat good teams and the offense is showing signs of life just a little bit even if you wished one or two of the long balls came with men on base.
The rotation continues to impress, albeit Ivan Nova lasted just 4.2 innings, giving up one earned run. Nova was on a pitch count and was pulled at 81 pitches, while Kirby Yates and recently acquired, Phil Coke, stepped in to provide two scoreless innings before handing it to the back of the bullpen. From there, Chasen Shreve surrendered a long ball and Chapman came in to shut the door in a non save situation.
The inning wasn’t clean and Chapman gave up a run on a two out double and single, but considering he hadn’t thrown in a big league game, it was a welcomed sight, as was seven of his 17 pitches recorded in triple digits, topping out at 101 miles per hour multiple times. It was an electric site and had the entire Yankees’ dugout watching intently.
Now New York moves into a precarious position heading into Mid May. April was a disaster, a nightmare of all worst case scenarios combined into a 25 man roster. May started off the same way but New York has won three of four and four of six, the first signs of stringing together consistent efforts. It could very well be that the second worst offense in the AL is just facing a law of averages before it disappears for weeks on end again, or it could be that not every Yankees’ player is going to face a career worst year and the bats could wake up. And if that’s the case, the rotation seems to be following the same trend and the bullpen just became even scarier.
The Yankees will have about 50 games to figure out what type of team it’s going to be after the all star break. It could be one where Chapman’s left arm provides the kind of psychological boost to jolt the team into contention. It could also be the type of team with aged bats running into a decent week facing pitchers like a near 7 ERA David Price and a retread in Chris Young.
Either way, Chapman provides a new dimension. He caps off the most dominant bullpen in baseball and alluring trade value to other teams in contention with every pop of the catcher’s mitt. He provides short-term trade value but similarly long-term extension promise.
The beginning was when he struck out Omar Infante on a 97 mile per hour fastball.
The end can be anywhere from July until Chapman’s retirement.
The next 50 games will decide which ending we see.