Bob Klapisch of the Bergen Record reports that Yankees manager Joe Girardi is open to moving Aroldis Chapman back into the closer’s role as soon as Thursday, when the club wraps up a four-game series against the Orioles.
Chapman, 29, has struggled this season and was taken out of the closer’s role in mid-August. He currently holds a 4.02 ERA with a 56/18 K/BB ratio in 40 1/3 innings. In six appearances since his demotion, the lefty has allowed three runs on five hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.
The Yankees wasted a 6-1 lead after three innings on Tuesday and ultimately lost when Manny Machado hit a walk-off two-run home run off of Dellin Betances in the bottom of the ninth inning. The loss hurt because the Yankees and Orioles are close competitors in the AL Wild Card race. The Yankees are currently 2.5 games up in the first Wild Card slot while the Orioles trail the Twins and Angels by one game for the second slot.
The Orioles singlehandedly kept the rumor mill churning this weekend. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the club is interested in making a play for free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, adding him to a list of potential candidates that also includes free agent righty Alex Cobb. The two are expected to command similar contracts in free agency, but Morosi notes that the Orioles may prefer Cobb based on his familiarity with the AL East.
Lynn, 30, is two years removed from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Despite missing the 2016 season, he bounced back with a respectable 11-8 record in 33 starts and complemented his efforts with a 3.43 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 186 1/3 innings for the 2017 Cardinals. He lost several days with a blister on his pitching hand in early September, but managed to avoid any major injuries and can reasonably be expected to shoulder another heavy workload in 2018.
Lynn may not be the Orioles’ first choice to beef up their starting rotation, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be in high demand as one of very few viable starters on the market this winter. The veteran righty rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals on Thursday and will likely be seeking a multi-year contract, one that Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch estimates around five years and $100+ million. If the Orioles are willing to bite that bullet, they’ll still need to compensate the Cardinals with their third pick in next year’s draft.