Yankees: Aroldis Chapman Facing Biggest Season as Yankee in 2021

Aroldis Chapman has given up home runs ending the Yankees' last two playoff runs. Here is why 2021 is Chapman's biggest year as a Yankee.

You may notice a trend in these articles about the New York Yankees. 2021 is a big year for almost everyone on the roster. In more ways than one, this is THE year for them, and closer Aroldis Chapman is the next name to enter the spotlight.

Time is flying by for Yankee fans. The 2021 season will now be the fourth since the “Baby Bombers” 2017 Cinderella playoff run that had them one game shy of the World Series. What looked like a promising championship window has now been delayed for four years resulting in zero Yankees championships.

The Yankees are built to be contenders for a while. But the team, as well as fans, are ready to win now. For that to happen, Chapman has to avoid giving up game-sealing home runs, because this has held him back in these last two post seasons .

Chapman gave up a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to Jose Altuve in 2019, sending Houston to the World Series. One year later, things felt the same in the ALDS against Tampa Bay. Chapman entered a 1-1 tie game in the eighth inning of game 5, and gave up a homer to Mike Brosseau which wound up deciding the game and the series.

To some Yankee fans, Chapman may not seem all he is hyped up to be. Poor performance in those clutch playoff moments really hurts his public perception. However, statistically, he has been one of the best closers in baseball while in New York.

Stats vs. Memories

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Chapman has been nothing but solid since he rejoined the Yankees in 2017. He holds a 2.64 ERA in that span, with a 1.080 WHIP and 94 saves in 170 innings. He blew 13 saves, but none of them came in the playoffs.

That is where some fans, including myself, disagree with that “blown saves” statistic.

The Altuve and Brosseau home runs felt like blown saves to most fans. Though they technically don’t qualify as blown saves since the games were tied when Chapman entered the game. Chapman is the Yankees go-to closer, and he was brought into those games to shut the batters down and keep the game tied at least another inning. He just didn’t get it done.

So while he has been statistically dominant, it has been frustrating for fans to have back-to-back playoff runs come to an end due to home runs given up by Chapman.

That is why 2021 is the most important season Chapman will have since he has been in pinstripes.

Looking to Find Dominant Form Again

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The 2020 season was a weird one for Chapman. He only appeared in 13 of the 60 games, pitching 11 innings. He finished with a 1-1 record and a 3.09 ERA, along with 22 strikeouts and three saves.

At 33 years old, the fastball-heavy Chapman is due for some drop-off in velocity. He mentioned adding the splitter more into his arsenal this year, so hopefully that adds to his already-lethal presence on the mound.

When ‘The Cuban Missile’ is clicking in the ninth inning, few are more unstoppable than him.

With two seasons left on his contract, this is a really important campaign for Chapman to get back on track. There have been times the last couple seasons where he loses his closer role for a few games at a time. That can’t keep happening anymore.

As of now he is the only lefty in the Yankees bullpen, as Zach Britton and Justin Wilson will be sidelined with injuries to start the season. Chapman is also suspended the first game or two of the 2021 season after throwing near a batters head last season.

Bottom Line

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Chapman is still arguably the best closer in baseball. This guy is still the one the Yanks will be calling on for the final three outs in save situations. But this is without a doubt the biggest season for Chapman. He needs to reverse the trend of how he has ended the Yankees’ last two seasons.

Instead he must finish strong to get the Yankees to their first World Series appearance since 2009.

The 2021 season is very important for the New York Yankees as a whole. Will they finally get over the hump, or have another early, disappointing playoff exit?

That will likely yet again be decided in October, when the ball is in the hands of Aroldis Chapman late in the game.