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.