Yankees: Chapman’s Mystery Solved – Credit Gary Sanchez

Gary Sanchez leads Aroldis Chapman to a save (NY post)

Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone stuck to his game plan in which Chapman is his closer. From one night to the next, a much different result. Why?

The Yankees, since the days of Thurman Munson, Joe Girardi, and Jorge Posada, have sought to find a catcher who fits the definition of a Field Leader.

Yankees Field General Thurman Munson
Yankees Field General Thurman Munson

A catcher who studies his pitching staff day in and day out, following the effectiveness of their pitches, mood swings, reading scouting reports on opposing hitters, and most of all to be mentally prepared himself to call each pitch of the game and not the other way around, wherein a pitcher dictates a sequence of pitches.

There are exceptions to that rule, and someone like Gerrit Cole, a Cy Young winner, is one of the few that qualify.

Aroldis Chapman, however, does not qualify, which is why Gary Sanchez took him by the hand last night to protect a one-run Yankees’ lead in the ninth inning.

Following a disastrous appearance the night before in which Chapman forced Boone to remove him from the game after surrendering a bases-loaded walk.

Yankees: A Tale Of Two Pitch Sequences

The difference between Chapman’s back-to-back appearances is not in the results, but in how those results were achieved.

Tuesday night, with Sanchez also as his catcher and two outs recorded, Chapman’s pitch sequence to the final two batters he faced looked like this:

  • Two four-seam fastballs
  • Eight sliders
  • Three splitters

Last night, Chapman’s pitch sequence looked like this:

  • Twelve four-seam fastballs
  • No sliders
  • One splitter

Yankees’ Sanchez Called The Right Game

It’s possible, but it doesn’t matter if Aaron Boone instructed Sanchez to use the four-seamer because it’s still up to the catcher to follow through, even if he’s facing a recalcitrant teammate.

A field leader will keep calling for the pitch he wants his pitcher to throw no matter how many times he gets shaken off.

Chapman, in this case, complied, even though none of his fastballs hit his trademark 100mph mark.

Aaron Boone pushing all the right buttons for the Yankees?
Aaron Boone pushing all the right buttons for the Yankees?

In Chapman, the Yankees have a pitcher who will live and die with his fastball. His other pitches are average at best, so why use them when the game is on the line?

Last night should be a confidence builder for Chapman, but more so for Gary Sanchez, who with all his other troubles, still took a step forward as the Yankees’ field leader.

Not to be overlooked is Boone’s incessant belief in what he calls, “My Guys”, and Chapman is one of those guys.

The Yankees bullpen is healthy and stacked to the point where Boone could have used a different sequence of relievers last night – but he took the risk and chose not to.

And if the game had turned out differently, Boone would be facing the music today.

Aroldis Chapman: A Lesson Learned?

As we know, the life of any closer is perilous and fraught with ups and downs. The good ones learn to live with that and the best, like Yankees’ great Mariano Rivera, thrive on it.

Aroldis Chapman is good but not great, and every once in a while (apparently) he still needs some hand-holding to get him back on track.

The Yankees, Aaron Boone, and Gary Sanchez did that for him last night – and he responded.

Chapman may get another chance as soon as tonight in Oakland, and this time we can expect Aaron Boone to come charging out of the dugout if he sees even one slider come off the hand of his closer.

After all, if you are going to get beat, make sure it happens when you’re going with your best pitch…

Postgame – Chapman On His 300th Save

Here’s What readers Are Saying…

Philip Lupi I’ve never considered Sanchez a good catcher to evaluate what a pitcher should pitch or not pitch. And somehow I’m not sure he made the difference. We’ll see moving forward. Onix Navarro Me neither. Chapman may have found something wrong and fixed it himself.

Adele Amato Tamburo He said he watched some videos from the years he was doing well.

Peter Dandrea As long as he has control he is lights out.

Bruce Kain I would hardly call Chappy’s slider “average at best.” When his heater is on, and hitters are thinking about it, his slider is a great out or set-up pitch. It’s only when he can’t control the fastball and hitters sit on the offspeed, that his slider gets spanked…Fair point.

Vinnie Geloso A human arm is not designed to throw a baseball 100 miles an hour overhand. These guys are freaks like Chapman Nolan Ryan on and on. Sometimes shit happens!!!

Fred Shank Why? Why do you not think?? Because Chapman is the closer. A pitcher has had some trouble coming off of injury before. Chapman isn’t the first. And… wow.. look what happened last night…!

Stu Cohen They said he made some changes to his delivery, thanks to Sanchez. If it works, great

Joe Kepler One point of clarification, it wasn’t Boone calling the shots. He was ejected in the 2nd inning.Thanks, Joe.

Tyler Nelson Look like when he just throws his 100mph fastball he is successful.Or, even less than that.

Michael Felicetta If your manager believes in you you have to believe in yourself. And it was the right decision

Brian Magyar I couldn’t agree more about the fastball. That’s his pitch. But the night against the Braves, he wasn’t throwing strikes with the fastball. He was with the slider. I know it was gut wrenching at the end. But let’s not forget about the 2 if’s that didn’t go in his favor. Everybody’s sphincters would never have reached such extreme tightness “if” any of the calls went his way. He’ll be fine. Play him.

David Dahlin Sanchez called right sequences, and probably wasn’t allowing shake-offs.

Closing Comments And Final Thoughts

Closing published comments amidst a bunch still coming in.

My point about Gary Sanchez was dismissed quite easily and that’s okay. Comments are all over the place, most are positive, but still they leave open the question of “Chappy” fulfilling his role as the Yankees closer in 2021.

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Steve Contursi
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Author: stevecontursi

I am an amateur writer with a passion for baseball and all things Yankees and Mets.