Despite that vote of confidence, after Chapman had walked the first two hitters he faced and fell behind, 2-1, to pinch-hitter Isiah Kiner-Falefa — without throwing anything harder than 96 miles per hour — Boone sent pitching coach Larry Rothschild to the mound and got Zach Britton up in the bullpen.
“That was just to cover us,” Boone said. “If he had lost another hitter or two, Zach would have been in that game.”
Chapman recovered to get Kiner-Falefa to ground into a force out, and reached back to find a 99 m.p.h. fastball to strike out Shin-Soo Choo for the second out. Then, after missing with another 99 m.p.h. heater to Odor, Chapman dialed back the velocity to end the game on the next three pitches.
But after Chapman’s disastrous outing in Boston on Sunday in which he allowed three ninth-inning runs to blow just his second save of the year, paving the way for a Red Sox win in 10 innings, as well as another terrible outing against the Mets on July 21 in which he allowed three runs without getting an out, Boone acknowledged that something is not quite right with his closer.
“I do think it’s a little more mechanical. Maybe he’s just a tick out of whack right now,” Boone said. “We’ll dive into things between me and Larry and Chap and hopefully get him corrected.”
Boone said there was no thought of replacing Chapman as the Yankees closer — he has 29 saves, a 2.20 earned-run average and 81 strikeouts in 45 innings — but said there may be save situations in which he will not be on the mound.
“I see save opportunities for Robbie and Zach while we’re trying to protect and rest Chappie,” Boone said, referring to Britton and David Robertson. “We need to make sure we just get him throwing the ball like he can.”
The return of Aaron Judge, out since he sustained a chip fracture of the right wrist after being hit by a pitch on July 26, will not be as rapid as the Yankees had hoped. Originally, the Yankees said Judge would begin swinging a bat a week after the injury and be ready to play, either in the major leagues or a minor-league rehab game, within three weeks. But Judge still has pain in the wrist and has yet to pick up a bat, though he did run the bases before Thursday’s game. “It’s right on track,” Judge said. “There’s going to be discomfort for awhile. It’s still fractured. I just got to wait until it heals up and I can move forward with swinging and throwing and things like that.”