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 Padres fired manager Andy Green on Saturday, per an official team release. Bench coach Rod Barajas will step into the position for the remaining eight games of the 2019 season.
Executive Vice President and GM A.J. Preller gave a statement in the wake of Green’s dismissal:
I want to thank Andy for his tireless work and dedication to the Padres over the last four seasons. This was an incredibly difficult decision, but one we felt was necessary at this time to take our organization to the next level and expedite the process of bringing a championship to San Diego. Our search for a new manager will begin immediately.
In additional comments made to reporters, Preller added that the decision had not been made based on the Padres’ current win-loss record (a fourth-place 69-85 in the NL West), but rather on the lack of response coming from the team.
“Looking at the performance, looking at it from an improvement standing, we haven’t seen the team respond in the last few months,” Preller said. “When you get to the point where you’re questioning where things are headed … we have to make that call.”
Since his hiring in October 2015, Green has faced considerable challenges on the Padres’ long and winding path to postseason contention. He shepherded San Diego through four consecutive losing seasons, drawing a career 274-366 record as the club extended their streak to 13 seasons without a playoff appearance. And, despite some definite strides in the right direction — including an eight-year, $144 million pact with Eric Hosmer, a 10-year, $300 million pact with superstar Manny Machado, and the development of top prospect Fernando Tatís Jr. — lingering injuries and inexplicable slumps from key players stalled the rebuild longer than the Padres would have liked.
For now, they’ll prepare to roll the dice with a new skipper in 2020, though any potential candidates have yet to be identified for the role. It won’t come cheap, either, as Green inked a four-year extension back in 2017 — one that should have seen him through the team’s 2021 campaign.