Aroldis Chapman had a chance to go down as the heel if the New York Yankees’ postseason went south Sunday. New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi — the same man Chapman’s Instagram account endorsed calling an imbecile — called on Chapman for a five-out save in Game 3 of the American League Division Series against the Cleveland Indians.
The Yankees had a 1-0 lead in the eighth inning and were down 0-2 in the best-of-five series. The margin for error was minuscule. And Chapman, for as good as he is, isn’t exactly Kenley Jansen or Andrew Miller when it comes to unconventional relief outings. Five outs seemed a situation where the chance for error was bigger than the margin.
Turns out, Chapman was the heat, not the heel, in the Yankees’ 1-0 win. Chapman would throw 34 pitches between the eighth and ninth innings and 30 of them — yes, 30! — were clocked at 100 mph or faster. That’s incredible, but this stat might be even more mind-blowing. From MLB’s analytics whiz Daren Willman:
Aroldis Chapman threw 10 pitches 102 MPH+ tonight. How crazy is that? Every other @mlb pitcher this year combined to throw 10 all season
— Daren Willman (@darenw) October 9, 2017
That is indeed crazy. To reiterate here: Chapman, in one and two-third innings, threw as many pitches above 102 mph as the rest of the league did the entire season. It’s not exactly surprising, though, considering Chapman threw 24 of the 25 fastest pitches in MLB this season, according to Statcast.
On Sunday night, Chapman struck out two batters in the eighth with a runner on, then managed the final two outs after giving up two singles in the ninth. Chapman was teetering briefly, but in his moment of peril, he turned to the heat.
Jay Bruce was up with two runners on and Chapman K’d him with five straight 100 mph+ four-seamers. The final batter of the game was Carlos Santana, whose first four pitchers came at 102, 101, 102 and 101 mph. Then with two strikes, Chapman threw his second fastest pitch of the night — a 103.5 mph fastball that went for a ball. He’d eventually get Santana to fly out on a 101 mph fastball.
So in case you needed to know why Chapman signed a five-year, $86 million contract this past offseason, the richest ever for a closer – this about sums it up.
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