The Unexpected Resurgence of Aroldis Chapman
The Cuban Missile has risen from troubles of Yankee Stadium to newfound success in fresh threads.
The 2021 and 2022 seasons saw Chapman have the two worst seasons of his career. A far cry from his record-breaking, All-Star level dominance that has developed Chapman into a baseball icon.
In those two seasons, Chapman recorded a career-worst in (Walks and Hits Per Inning Pitched) WHIPs of (1.31, 1.43) and walk rate percentage (15.6%, 17.5%), and in 2022, posted a career-high 4.46 ERA.
Nevertheless, Chapman finished ninth in the majors in 2021 with 30 saves on 36 opportunities as the Yankees finished with a 92-70 record.
In 2022, Chapman only had nine save opportunities due to injuries such as an Achilles tendinitis and an infection from a tattoo. Subsequently, losing the closer role to All-Star Clay Holmes.
The Yankees left Chapman's name off the postseason roster after missing a team workout. It was obvious that his time in the Bronx was over.
Sure enough, the seven-time All-Star signed with the Kansas City Royals in the 2023 off season.
This season with the Royals, Chapman made 31 appearances with two saves in four opportunities. In 29 1/3 innings, Chapman lowered his ERA to 2.45.
On June 30, the Royals shipped Chapman to the Texas Rangers for LHP Cole Reigns and OF Toni Cabrera.
Kansas City has been at the bottom of their division, meanwhile, Texas has been contenting with the defending World Series Champions, Houston Astros for the top spot in the AL West.
Since the trade to Texas, Chapman has been solid. In seven appearances, the 35-year-old has one save and allowed zero runs.
After leaving New York, Chapman has improved on his mechanics under new coaching.
The Cuban has increased the velocity on each of the pitches in his arsenal such as four-seam fastballs, sliders, sinkers, and split finger pitches. Across the four pitches, the average velocity last season was 92.8 mph, this season it's 94.7 mph.
An increase in velocity has made Chapman's pitches nearly unhittable. Chapman's four-seam fastball average of 99.8 mph ranks as the fourth highest in baseball.
Chapman has been elite in making batters miss, as he has the second-highest whiff rate at 44.3%.
One reason why is Chapman has one of the longest pitching strides in baseball, resulting in the pitch being released closer to the plate than 94% of the pitchers.
As a Ranger, Chapman's WHIP is an impressive 0.42, which is much longer than 1.07 last season with the Yankees.
On July 15, Rangers' manager Bruce Boch announced that Chapman will share closer responsibilities with Will Smith. A season long competition between the two will likely determine the primary closer leading into the postseason.
Currently, Texas is atop of the AL West standings and expected to make a deep run in the playoffs.
Expect to see Chapman, the co-league leader in strikeout percentage continue to emerge and tout the mound in the ninth inning for the Rangers moving forward.