The first step in any problem solving process is to simply identify the problem at hand, but it appears Aroldis Chapman hasn’t felt a sense of urgency to discover what his malfunction actually is.
At Yankee Stadium on Friday night, the 29-year-old left-hander — who was removed from his role as Yankees’ closer by manager Joe Girardi last week — endured yet another setback on the mound. He allowed a game-winning solo home run to Yonder Alonso in the 11th inning, which helped the Seattle Mariners top New York, 2-1.
In Chapman’s last seven appearances, he owns a 10.29 ERA with six hits and seven walks allowed in seven total innings. His season ERA is currently 4.10, and he’s surrendered 33 hits, 19 runs (17 earned) and 18 walks in 40 games (37.1 IP).
While the consensus is that Chapman’s slump isn’t due to physical health — since he’s still cranking out triple-digit heat — his issue is still confounding, and to hear that neither the Yankees nor Chapman have yet to indentify the dilemma isn’t encouraging news.
“It’s just that I haven’t found what the problem is,” Chapman told reporters in the clubhouse, via the team’s translator. “Definitely a tough moment right now. What I’m trying to do is trying to get out of it. That’s the focus. Move on from it. You’ve got to keep fighting. Never give up.”
“I haven’t found what the problem is.” – Aroldis Chapman pic.twitter.com/i35pTubVsm
It appears that little advice has been offered to Chapman, but Fox Sports analyst and former major leaguer Dontrelle Willis suggested a tweak to Chapman’s mechanics on FOX’s MLB Whiparound program on Aug. 16.
“He has simple mechanics, and when he comes up to set, he’s already looking down,” Willis said. “So as he’s moving and driving, his head’s to the first base side. So now if the target’s on the [third base] side, he’s got to fight himself to get over to that side. And that’s why you’re seeing the sailed sliders, the fastball’s that are running on his arm side because he can’t get there, especially when you throw 100 miles an hour.
“So what I’d like to see from him is as soon as he breaks his hands, his head has to pick up the target. He needs to go back and look at that tape and slow himself down, and I guarantee he’ll be more better at the plate.”
However Chapman is trying to cope with his conflict should be deemed counterproductive. Right now, he’s a stubborn, broken pitcher with little direction, and although his confidence isn’t necessarily lost, his approach to the game needs to change if the Yankees want to be a legitimate postseason contender. That means Chapman and his employer are responsible in this matter, and both parties should be held accountable if progress isn’t shown. After all, it’s an expensive problem for the franchise to have, since Chapman’s in the first year of a five-year, $86 million contract signed during the offseason.