Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman may not return to the bullpen in 2018, general manager Brian Cashman told reporters Saturday. The left-hander has battled tendonitis in his left knee since May and managed to get through just four innings in August before hitting the disabled list. He received two platelet-rich plasma injections to relieve the soreness in his knee over the last several weeks and seems likely to evade any surgical procedures, but it looks like his return date may be pushed back indefinitely even so.
This is the first time Chapman has dealt with significant knee pain knee over the course of his nine-year career in the majors. When healthy, the 30-year-old lefty has been lights-out on the mound; he recorded 31 saves in 42 opportunities with a 2.11 ERA, 5.2 BB/9 and 16.1 SO/9 through 47 innings in 2018. Dellin Betances, Zach Britton, and David Robertson have all seen time in the closer’s role with Chapman still on the mend, and it’s expected that the Yankees will continue to roll with the closer-by-committee approach as they enter the final month of the season.
According to MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch, Cashman also revealed that Chapman’s lingering injury was a motivating factor for the organization’s acquisition of Britton at the July trade deadline. Since then, Britton has recorded one save and pitched to a 4.70 ERA, 4.1 BB/9 and 7.0 SO/9 through 15 1/3 innings.
The Angels have placed Andrew Heaney on the 10-day injured list with left shoulder inflammation, the club announced Saturday. The move is retroactive to July 17, though it’s not yet certain that he’ll be cleared to pitch again by the end of the month.
It’s an unfortunate development for the 28-year-old southpaw, who has battled inflammation in his pitching elbow on and off since spring training. In fact, his arm issues date back several years, including the shoulder impingement that put him on the shelf in 2017 and the Tommy John surgery he underwent in 2016. With such a complicated medical history, it makes sense that the Angels would want to proceed with caution as they facilitate the lefty’s eventual return to the mound.
Given his ongoing struggles, Heaney has seen mixed results with the club in 2019. Prior to his recent IL assignment, he pitched to a 1-3 record in nine starts with a 5.09 ERA, 3.7 BB/9, and 10.6 SO/9 through 46 innings. Since the end of June, however, his starts have gotten shorter and shorter; he lasted just 4 1/3 innings in his final outing against the Astros, expending a tremendous 103 pitches and issuing two runs, two walks, and five strikeouts during the team’s eventual 7-2 win.
In a corresponding roster move, the Angels claimed lefty reliever Adalberto Mejía off of waivers from the Twins. Mejía, 26, is expected to be activated ahead of Saturday’s game versus the Mariners. Over 13 appearances with Minnesota, he turned in an 8.80 ERA, 7.0 BB/9, and 8.8 SO/9 in 15 1/3 innings.