Chapman loses job as Yankees' closer

If/when lefty regains role uncertain; Betances gets 9th vs. Sox, but Robertson also option

August 19th, 2017

BOSTON -- Four straight ineffective appearances bumped out of his job as the Yankees' closer on Saturday, and with and taking over as a fluid late-inning tandem, there is no guarantee of when (or if) the flame-thrower will reclaim that title.

With Chapman idle, manager Joe Girardi trusted Robertson and Betances to record the final seven outs of Saturday's 4-3 victory over the Red Sox at Fenway Park, with Betances pitching around a strikeout-wild pitch to pick up his ninth save in 11 chances.

"Today it was me, tomorrow it could be Robertson," Betances said. "That's just the way it is right now. Once Chapman gets right and gets things going the way I know he will, then Chapman will get back out there. For us, we're just trying to do the best we can."

Robertson recorded four outs after entering in the seventh inning, and though he owns 132 career saves -- 14 this year -- the right-hander says that he has no problem with not being tethered to the ninth inning.

"Doesn't matter to me at all," Robertson said. "I don't care. That's when I needed to pitch, and it worked out."

Chapman has allowed seven runs in his last four games and struggled in New York's 9-6 loss on Friday, surrendering a two-run single to in an appearance that also included the left-hander failing to hold runners on a double steal and neglecting to back up home plate.

Girardi informed Chapman of the demotion in a brief chat before Saturday's game, though there was no announcement made to the other players.

"[When I] found out, I spoke to Robertson," Betances said. "Just be ready for whatever, I guess. I honestly didn't know."

After Chapman helped the Cubs to their first World Series title in 108 years, the Yankees issued the 29-year-old a five-year, $86 million contract, setting a record for the largest deal issued to a relief pitcher. In 38 appearances since then, Chapman is 4-2 with a 4.29 ERA, converting 16 of 20 save opportunities.

"We had a conversation and they told me about it," Chapman said through an interpreter. "I accepted their decision. I'm here to pitch wherever they need me. ... The day that I come back to be the same Chapman that I've always been, that's up to them. That's up to the manager. I don't really decide that."

Most alarmingly, Chapman's triple-digit fastball no longer seems to be fooling hitters, which Girardi said is attributable to a lack of command.

"He's been scuffling over the past 10 days, two weeks," Girardi said. "I just thought for us to get him back on track, maybe the best way would be to move him around a little bit until he gets going. When we get him going like I believe he'll get going, there's a good chance I'll put him right back in that closer's role."

In the meantime, Girardi said that he plans to deploy Betances and Robertson based upon matchups.

"When you look at guys like Robbie and Dellin, these are guys that get left-handers and right-handers out as well," Girardi said. "Chapman's been the same. If it was to work better [with Chapman not closing], it's definitely something that we're going to consider."

Betances said that he does not expect it to come to that.

"As a teammate, fan and player, I know we need Chapman to be Chapman, and I have all the faith in him," Betances said. "I've been talking to him every day. We need him to win this whole thing."