And That Happened: Thursday's scores and highlights

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Fourteen teams get a day off after they just had three days off. That’s like calling in sick the day after Memorial Day.

Phillies 4, Marlins 0: Man, old people love Florida. Moyer: 7
IP, 1 H 0 ER; Ibanez: 2-4, 2 HR 3 RBI. Manuel: hit the early bird
special before the game, found a nice close spot to park the Buick.

Indians 4, Mariners 1: Cliff Lee spun a gem (CG, 9 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, K) and, while it’s still nothing to write home about, he got at least a little
run support. While randomly surfing I found this Indians’ notes column
that went live just as the game was ending. In it, Eric Wedge gets the
quote of the day: “Regarding when the Indians might recall
recently-demoted relievers Rafael Perez and Jensen Lewis, Wedge said,
‘We need to let them pitch down there.'” I presume that the reporter
merely cut off the part where Wedge added “mostly because it’s not up
here.”

Cubs 6, Nationals 2: The Jim Riggleman Era begins much like the
Manny Acta era ended. I could probably say a few words about Rich
Harden pitching well, or Derek Lee going 3-4, but I’ve decided that
this is the point in the post where I complain about the fact that my
wife wouldn’t let me watch “Ghostbusters” on the big TV downstairs last
night because she had recorded something else and wanted to watch it
just then. And because I’ve seen it 150 times and, after each time I
see it, I quote the Rick Moranis lines for three straight days which
annoys her to no end, I can tell you. Still, very weak on her part.

Brewers 9, Reds 6: Reports of Homer Bailey’s resurrection have
been greatly exaggerated (5.1 IP, 6 H, 7 ER, 4 BB). Oh, and Prince
Fielder would like you to know that there is nothing to that post-HR
Derby falloff theory (1-3, HR 3 RBI).

Braves 5, Mets 3: Welcome back, Jeff Francoeur! What with the
hitting into a double play, striking out, and grounding weakly to
shortstop — not to mention your seeing 14 total pitches in four at
bats — it’s as if you never left!

Angels 6, A’s 2: Given how he’s been rollin’ lately, we couldn’t
have necessarily expected Ervin Santana to pitch eight innings of
one-run ball. But he did, and if he’s better post-break than he was
pre-break, the Angels have a big leg up on Texas in this thing. As for
the A’s, this might be the most depressing paragraph I’ve seen in quite
a while:

Oakland looked sluggish as it kicked off a grueling stretch of 28
games in as many days and 34 in 35. Nomar Garciaparra is scheduled to
get the start at first base on Friday night for the A’s, and manager
Bob Geren plans to use him once a series in place of the struggling
Jason Giambi to keep Giambi fresh.

Rockies 10, Padres 1: Aaron Cook is just livin’ right, I guess.
You must be if you give up eight hits and walk four guys and come away
with it only giving up one run. Oh, and when you’re a pitcher and you
walk with the bases loaded, which as Pinto notes, is happening an awful lot lately.

Astros 3, Dodgers 0: Forget Manny, it was Wandywood in L.A. last
night (6 IP, 5 H, 0 ER). Um, OK, that’s stupid, but say “Wandywood” a
few times. It’s fun!

The Yankees are paying $86 million for a one-inning reliever

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OXON HILL, MD — The Yankees signing of Aroldis Chapman late Wednesday night came as something of a surprise. And the money — $86 million — was something of a shock. Yes, we knew that Chapman was going to break the bank and likely set a record as the highest paid relief pitcher in history, but seeing it in black and white like that is still rather jarring.

In the coming days, many people who attempt to analyze and contextualize this signing will do so by pointing to the 2016 playoffs and the unconventional use of relievers by Terry Francona and the Indians and Joe Maddon of the Cubs. They’ll talk about how the paradigm of bullpen use has shifted and how relief pitchers have taken on a new importance in today’s game. Chapman’s astronomical salary, therefore, will be described as somehow more reasonable and somewhat less shocking than it first seems.

Don’t buy that jive for a second.

Yes, Andrew Miller and, to some extent, Chapman himself were used unconventionally in the 2016 playoffs, but not long into the 2017 season we will see that as an exception, not the rule. And not just because Chapman showed himself unable to hold up to that level of use in the playoffs. It will be the exception because the Yankees have shown no inclination whatsoever to deviate from traditional bullpen usage in the past and there is no reason to expect that they will do so with Chapman in the future.

As you no doubt remember, the Yankees had Chapman, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller for the first half of 2016. Such an imposing back end of a bullpen has rarely been seen in recent history. All of them, however, were used, more or less, as one-inning-a-piece guys and no real effort was ever made to break any bullpen usage paradigms or to shorten games the way many applauded Terry Francona for doing in the playoffs.

Miller pitched 44 games for the Yankees, totaling 45.1 innings. He pitched more than a single inning on only three occasions. Chapman pitched 31 games for the Yankees, amassing 31.1 innings. He was used for more than one inning only twice. Betances worked in 73 games, totaling 73 innings. On 11 occasions he pitched more than one inning.  It was unconventional for a team to have three relievers that good, but they were not, in any way, used unconventionally. Nor is there any reason to expect Chapman to be used unconventionally in 2017, especially given that Miller is not around and Chapman has shown no real ability to be stretched for multiple innings for a sustained period.

None of which is to say that having Chapman around is a bad thing or that he is any less of a closer than his reputation suggests. It’s merely to say that the Yankees paying Chapman unprecedented money for a closer should not be justified by the alleged new importance of relief pitchers or that changing role for them we heard so much about in the playoffs. Indeed, I suspect that that changing role applies only to pitcher use in the playoffs. And I do not suspect that this transaction alone pushes the Yankees into serious playoff contention, making that temporary unconventionality something of a moot point in New York for the foreseeable future.

It is almost certain that the Yankees are paying $86 million for the same one-inning closer Aroldis Chapman has been for his entire seven-year career. His contract may or may not prove to be a good one for New York based on how he performs, but don’t let anyone tell you now, in Decemeber 2016, that it’s better than you think because Chapman will somehow transform into a 1970s-style relief ace or something.

Report: Yankees sign Aroldis Chapman to a five-year, $86 million deal

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Update (12:02 AM EST): Rosenthal adds that Chapman’s contract includes an opt-out clause after three seasons, a full no-trade clause for the first three years of the contract, and a limited no-trade clause for the final two years.

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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Yankees have signed closer Aroldis Chapman to a five-year, $86 million contract. Mark Melancon recently set the record for a contract earned by a reliever at $62 million over four years. Chapman blew that out of the water and many are surprised he didn’t fetch more.

Chapman, 28, began the 2016 season with the Yankees but he was traded to the Cubs near the end of July in exchange for four prospects. The Cubs, of course, would go on to win the World Series in large part due to Chapman. The lefty finished the regular season with a 1.55 ERA, 36 saves, and a 90/18 K/BB ratio in 58 innings between the two teams.

Chapman was the best reliever on the free agent market and, because he was traded midseason, he didn’t have draft pick compensation attached to him.

The Yankees don’t seem to be deterred by Chapman’s domestic violence issue from last offseason, resulting in a 30-game suspension to begin the 2016 regular season.