Thursday, July 5, 2018

Always Be Closing: Aroldis Chapman Edition

Right now, in baseball, there are two names synonymous with closing pitching. Both are in the AL East. Aroldis Chapman and Craig Kimbrel. As obvious, both are doing pretty damn well this year, what with their teams running the league and all.

However, of the two, Chapman has the most to prove. Aroldis Chapman's biggest detraction from critics is that he's all name, no results. He can throw above 100 miles per hour, and strike out a ton of people, but his closer-friendly statistics don't weigh as much as people like Craig Kimbrel's stats do. Said critics also remind you that Chapman has never pitched more than 38 saves in a season. Kimbrel has never pitched more than 38 saves...with Boston. Every other full year of his career, he has.

But what makes Aroldis Chapman so powerful, especially this year, where people have cited his season as a comeback for the ages, one that the Yankees had seen coming when they resigned him in 2017? Power. Pure, unadulterated power. Chapman is one of the single most powerful pitchers in baseball, and has been every since his arrival in the MLB.

Here's a random stat- CC Sabathia has started 15 games, and only has one more strikeout than Chapman, a guy that works 1 inning per game. Also, right now Chapman has a lower ERA that Craig Kimbrel, by .50, and has one less blown save than he does. He's also appeared in more games, and has given up less home runs. Kimbrel, this year, is human. He throws fire, but he's touchable. If you want to hit off of Aroldis Chapman, you need an ounce of luck and some genuine courage.

But why is Chapman more effective than Kimbrel despite the latter's team winning more games? It's simply a matter of bullpen strength. Right now, the Yankees' bullpen is one of the strongest in baseball, and has a variety of different secret weapons, like Chad Green, Dellin Betances, Adam Warren and A.J. Cole, that keep Chapman from being misused.

And there is the key word. Misuse.

Misuse was the number one reason why Aroldis Chapman did not return to Chicago after winning a ring with the Cubs. Joe Maddon didn't know when to use him in the playoffs, and could have won the World Series sooner had he used him correctly. Chapman wanted a team that didn't spread him too thin, and didn't use him during inopportune moments. So, with the stronger bullpen, Chapman is used properly. Kimbrel, whose bullpen isn't as strong, may not be used as well, and may be brought in on low rest due to the lack of a safety net, and a larger staff ERA.

Aroldis Chapman has been getting exactly what he wants this season, which is why he's pitching as well as he is. He'll likely be awarded an ASG nod for his services. And I'm proud to say that he's my closer.

Coming Tonight: Meanwhile, on the other side of New York, a rookie outfielder does his best to keep his team from falling any further.

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