Aroldis Chapman jogged to the mound in Cleveland on Saturday afternoon in the seventh inning of a blowout, the perfect environment for his return from the injured list.
Rather than building confidence and easing back into a high-leverage role in the Yankees' bullpen, however, Chapman was wildly ineffective, a disappointing performance that draws even more attention to his role going forward.
Chapman faced three batters in his first appearance since May 22.
He walked all three of them.
Of the 19 pitches the left-hander threw, only seven were strikes.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone quickly walked out to the mound as Chapman's final pitch sailed above the zone. The southpaw didn't even wait by the rubber for the skipper to take him out, meeting him closer to the first-base line as he trudged off the field.
Right-hander Ron Marinaccio limited the damage, getting the next three hitters out, but two runs would come in to score. Both were charged to Chapman, raising his ERA on the season to 5.14.
New York went on to win the game 13-4. After Chapman, Marinaccio, Lucas Luetge and Ryan Weber combined to throw three scoreless innings in relief.
Before the game against the Guardians—the first of two in Saturday's doubleheader—Boone told reporters that Chapman will pitch in a variety of situations. The left-hander missed just over a month with left Achilles tendinitis, struggling mightily on the mound before he landed on the injured list.
“I just want to get him in situations where he’s going out there with the best opportunity to be successful and hopefully get in that good rhythm where he’s pounding the strike zone," Boone said. "If we can do that, we’ll be in a good spot.”
This was far from the return Chapman, Boone and the Yankees envisioned. It was clear the lefty wouldn't come back as New York's closer (Clay Holmes has earned that spot with a dominant campaign), but now, you wonder how Chapman factors into the bullpen's equation going forward.
Chapman was practically perfect over the course of his rehab assignment, pitching two scoreless innings with Double-A Somerset before adding another clean frame with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
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