Chapman to be used in lower-leverage situations

After rough return from DL, closer to try getting back into rhythm

September 21st, 2018

NEW YORK -- moved on quickly after serving up a big home run in his return to action on Thursday evening, expressing confidence that he will reclaim his closer's role in time for the Yankees' postseason run.

"I understand in the next couple of games I'm going to be used in situations of less stress to help me get back into the rhythm, help me get back to being the pitcher that I know I can be," Chapman said through an interpreter. "That's what we talk about. That's what I'm expecting."

Chapman entered in the eighth inning of New York's 11-6 loss to the Red Sox with the Yankees trailing by two runs. Chapman was greeted by a single and issued a one-out walk to before launched a three-run homer, completing his four-hit, five-RBI night.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone said that it was not the ideal scenario to utilize Chapman, but it represented a good first step toward getting him back to the ninth inning.

"As the days unfold here down the stretch of the season, we'll get a good indication of how he's bouncing back, how he's able to hold onto his stuff as his pitch count rises, and hopefully it's a situation that we're dealing with and assessing deep into October," Boone said.

Left knee tendinitis forced Chapman to the disabled list on Aug. 22 after he had managed the injury since at least May. Chapman received two platelet-rich plasma injections in the knee, intended to speed healing. Boone said that his intent is to have Chapman serve as the Yankees' closer in the postseason.

"We feel like we're equipped to handle a lot of different scenarios as they unfold," Boone said. "The hope is to get Aroldis regular work and into form where he's closing out our games."

Chapman's fastball averaged 98.8 mph in Thursday's appearance, maxing at 100.3 mph and about on par with his season average of 99 mph. Those 16 pitches generated one swinging strike, a called strike and three foul balls. He also threw eight sliders, averaging 85.6 mph while generating two swinging strikes, two called strikes and two foul balls.

"When you're coming back from an injury, the first thing is you want to feel healthy," Chapman said. "You want to feel normal out there. For me, that's important. At the same time, I understand we're competing and trying to win the game. [Thursday] things didn't work out the way we want it. We'll take this and get back out there and be ready for more."

California scheming

The Yankees held an organizational meeting earlier this week specifically to prepare for the American League Wild Card Game against the Athletics. Front-office members and the coaching staff were in attendance as they plan for an Oct. 3 contest that they hope will be played at Yankee Stadium.

"We started to kind of spitball ideas, get everyone's thoughts, opinions, where we're at, what we're thinking at this point," Boone said. "That'll be an ongoing conversation into the final days of the season as we get closer to that. We'll hopefully -- through that dialogue and conversations -- we'll come up with the best plan possible to win that game."

No decision has been made concerning who would start the Wild Card Game, though Boone said that J.A. Happ will start Sunday's game against the Orioles, potentially placing him on turn to do so. and remain in the conversation.

"We're deeper because a lot of the moves and the players coming off the DL," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. "So we have a number of different choices if need be. We will do what we have to do as we move forward to secure a home-field advantage Wild Card and a Wild Card. So we have alternatives. We haven't set on who it's going to be. We have had those discussions in generalities, but there's multiple people we're considering. That's not a bad thing at all."

The Yankees' lead for home-field advantage over the Athletics was 1 1/2 games entering Friday.

"We obviously control our own destiny," Boone said. "If we go out and handle our business, if we take care of business, we'll play that game at home, and that's a priority of ours. We want to get that done because this is a special place for us, but we also want to be mindful that wherever that game is, we will be ready for it."

This date in Yankees history

Sept. 21, 2008: The Yankees play the final game at the original Yankee Stadium, defeating the Orioles, 7-3. Derek Jeter addresses the crowd of 54,610, saying, "We're relying on you to take the memories from this stadium and add them to the new memories we make at the new Yankee Stadium, and continue to pass them on from generation to generation."