The Yankees have been rolling right along over the past few weeks without Aroldis Chapman. But when can we expect to see the “Cuban Missile” back on the mound in the Bronx?
Aroldis Chapman injury update
Chapman last pitched on May 22, allowing two game-deciding runs in a loss to the White Sox. That was the sixth consecutive appearance in which he allowed at least one run, and Chapman was placed on the injured list two days later with left Achilles tendinitis.
Fast-forward to Thursday, when Chapman said he is pain-free and will throw a bullpen session Saturday. He may not need a lot of ramp-up time, so a return within the next couple of weeks seems feasible. However, the Yankees haven’t said anything concrete to that end.
The bigger question for Chapman — and his fantasy managers — is what role he assumes upon his return. Yeah, he’s probably still the man in the ninth for the Yankees, but there’s no arguing that Clay Holmes, who has served as closer in his absence, has been leaps and bounds better than Chapman all season long. Holmes might be the best relief pitcher in baseball right now. And if he’s not, fellow Yankee Michael King has a good argument in that debate.
Armed with an absolutely unhittable sinker, Holmes allowed one run in 26.2 innings entering Thursday. He has a ridiculous 82.8 ground-ball rate and some off-the-chart metrics. Oh, and King leads all relief pitchers in FanGraphs WAR (1.4). The Yankees’ bullpen.
Again, Chapman is probably still the Yanks’ closer just because, well, that’s the way things have been. But he is not this team’s first- or second-best reliever.