The New York Yankees have acquired Aroldis Chapman, the hardest-throwing pitcher in baseball, from the Cincinnati Reds for a package of four mostly unheralded minor leaguers.
The rebuilding Reds had the second-worst record in baseball last season, and the $10–$15 million contract Chapman is going to get in arbitration doesn’t fit within their plans. Chapman was all but traded to the Dodgers three weeks ago, before Yahoo broke the story that police were investigating him for an October incident in which he allegedly shot up his own garage and choked his girlfriend during a fight. The Reds both want to get rid of both Chapman’s salary and not deal with an ongoing MLB domestic violence investigation, explaining why they got such a paltry return for the four-time All-Star.
The Yankees already had one of the better bullpens in the majors last season, and the acquisition of Chapman’s 1.63 ERA and 104 MPH fastball makes it utterly dominant. Last season’s closer, Andrew Miller, had a 2.04 ERA and a ridiculous 100 strikeouts in 61 2⁄3 innings, and was chosen as the AL Relief Pitcher of the Year. His setup man Dellin Betances made his second All-Star game, and had a 1.50 ERA with 131 strikeouts in 84 innings. Along with Chapman, the Yankees now have the top three strikeout practitioners in the majors:
For the Yankees to advance in the playoffs, however, they’ll probably have to shore up their rotation. It is headlined by Masahiro Tanaka, who looked wondeful in his first season after coming over from Japan but merely good last year, and Michael Pineda, whose flashes of brilliance have rarely translated into sustained success, amidst numerous trips to the DL. After that we get to Nathan Eovaldi, whose 14-3 record hid his 4.20 ERA and was propped up by getting some of the best run support in baseball, and whatever guile is left in C.C Sabathia’s arm. Maybe Luis Severino will be the Truth?
But as long as the Yankees pitching staff can stay relatively healthy—no safe bet with Tanaka’s UCL tear, Pineda’s numerous strains, Eovaldi’s elbow, and Sabathia’s alcohol problems—they should be just fine. After all, they just need to barely hold on through six innings, before turning the ball over to the scariest bullpen in baseball.
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