In Thursday morning’s Bullpen Report, Greg Jewett noted that the just-activated Aroldis Chapman was going to get eased back into the closer’s role for the Yankees. In his first appearance in nearly a month, Chapman came in to pitch the eighth inning with a two-run deficit against the Red Sox on Thursday night, but there was nothing about it that looked like “easing.” His first pitch resulted in a Rafael Devers line drive single, and two batters later, Devers moved into scoring position on a Jackie Bradley Jr. walk. After striking out the struggling Sandy Leon, Chapman put the Yankees three more runs in the hole by serving up a slider that Mookie Betts turned on for a home run.
Chapman’s average fastball velocity was just a shade under 99 mph (98.8 mph, to be exact), and half of his 24 pitches were in the strike zone. However, both of the base hits he allowed were well-struck, and when he did miss the zone, Chapman wasn’t fooling anyone (2 swings on 12 out-of-zone pitches).
We will have to wait to see if Aaron Boone will trust Chapman in a save situation the next time one avails itself, though it could behoove him to allow Chapman to do some more easing in. It seems unlikely that Boone would turn to Dellin Betances for a save, as his recent difficulties continued on Thursday night. Betances preceded Chapman, pitching in the seventh inning, coming on in a 6-6 tie game with no outs and an inherited runner on at first base. He loaded up the bases with a double and an intentional walk, and a Xander Bogaerts sacrifice fly along with Aaron Hicks‘ errant throw to third base allowed two runs to come in.
Either Zach Britton or David Robertson could be an option for the Yankees’ next save, but barring another tough outing for Chapman, neither looks to have a strong chance to get more than a lone save from here on out.
Back on Monday, Sergio Romo had converted his third save in three days for the Rays, but he had allowed a home run in two of those appearances. He was back with another save opportunity on Thursday night in Toronto, and this time, things got truly messy. The Rays were speeding along with an 8-2 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth inning, so it looked like it would be a night off for Romo, but by the time Jaime Schultz had allowed Danny Jansen’s three-run homer, the Blue Jays had cut the lead to two runs.
Romo relieved Schultz, but he did not keep the basepaths empty for long. He allowed a two-out single to Kendrys Morales, and then Lourdes Gurriel Jr. homered off his first pitch from Romo to tie the game. Then Justin Smoak made it homers on back-to-back pitches, leaving Romo with both a loss and a blown save.
Fantasy owners should not count on Romo for saves at this point, and given the wealth of ninth-inning options that Kevin Cash has at his disposal. the entire Rays’ situation should be avoided. Jose Alvarado and Adam Kolarek could be candidates to close games in which tough left-handed hitters are involved, and maybe righties Chaz Roe and Diego Castillo could get save opportunities as well.
Quick hits: The Mets have 14 saves in the second half, and they have split them among five relievers. Mickey Callaway called on Paul Sewald after the Mets took a 5-4 lead against the Nationals in the top of the 12th inning on Thursday night, and he responded with a perfect inning for his second save…Two days after Terry Francona turned to Andrew Miller for a save, he used Brad Hand in the top of the ninth inning of a tie game with the White Sox. Hand walked two batters, but only one was unintentional, and he did not allow a run…Hector Santiago kept the White Sox knotted with the Indians in the ninth and 10th innings, and with a one-run lead in the bottom of the 11th, he tossed a third scoreless frame for his sixth win of the season. The lefty has now gone six straight appearances covering 8.2 innings without having allowed an earned run. Going back to July 25, Santiago has an 0.67 ERA with 35 strikeouts over 27 innings. He also has 16 walks and has benefited from a 92.3 percent strand rate…In just his third game back from the DL, Arodys Vizcainio recorded his first hold of the season. He pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning in the Braves’ 8-3 win over the Phillies…Though he did not get a hold for his efforts, Joe Jimenez struck out the side in the eighth inning of the Tigers’ 11-8 win over the Royals. After enduring a difficult August, Jimenez has tossed six perfect innings this month with 11 strikeouts…In pitching a scoreless top of the ninth inning before the Blue Jays broke out against Schultz and Romo, David Paulino got credit for his first win as a Blue Jay and his third career win. He froze batters for five called strikes on 12 total pitches, raising his called strike rate to 27.5 percent. Over his four appearances, Paulino has thrown 26 fastballs, and 11 have resulted in called strikes for a 42.3 percent rate (per Baseball Savant).
Al Melchior has been writing about Fantasy baseball and sim games since 2000, and his work has appeared at CBSSports.com, BaseballHQ, Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster and FanRagSports. He has also participated in Tout Wars' mixed auction league since 2013. You can follow Al on Twitter @almelchiorbb and find more of his work at almelchior.com.