Aroldis Champan shows concerning drop in velocity
New York Yankees reliever Aroldis Chapman has struggled in recent outings, having allowed a run in five straight games for the first time in his career. In Game 1 of a Sunday doubleheader with the Chicago White Sox, Chapman’s struggles continued.
Chapman came in to preserve a 1-1 tie in the top of the ninth inning, but did just the opposite. He allowed a go-ahead solo home run by White Sox outfielder A.J. Pollock on the second pitch of the inning. He was pulled from the game after giving up another run on an RBI single from outfielder Adam Engel three batters later. The Yankees went on to lose 3-1.
What was particularly troubling about the outing, however, was Chapman’s lack of velocity.
The 34-year-old isn’t as young as he once was, but still has the ability to dial up fastballs in the upper-90’s. But on Sunday, Chapman threw just two fastballs over 97 mph. Out of the eight fastballs he threw during the inning, three sat at a hittable 95 mph, including the pitch Pollock crushed into the left field seats.
Chapman’s decrease in velocity is part of an alarming downward trend in most of his pitching metrics.
So far in 2022, he has a career-low 96.8 mph average fastball velocity, and a career-worst opponent batting average (.208) and strikeout percentage (24.2%).
Aroldis Chapman in 2022:
Fastball velo: 96.8 MPH (career worst)
Slider velo: 84.3 MPH (career worst)
K%: 24.2% (career worst)
K-BB%: 9.7% (career worst)
Opp. BA: .208 (career worst)
In-Zone contact rate: 82.1% (career worst)
He’s regressed. No question. https://t.co/vocRKHXiDD
— Matt (@HoodieGleyber) May 22, 2022
After a strong start to his season, Chapman has given up 13 hits and six earned runs in 14 innings, in addition to 10 walks.
Chapman’s struggles predate this season, however. His stuff has been declining since MLB’s crackdown on sticky substance use last June. His average fastball spin rate is down over 1,000 revolutions per minute compared to this time last year, as detailed in the chart below.
Aroldis Chapman's average fastball spin rate started to take a dive in June 2021, right before the substance ban (June) went into effect and it never recovered. pic.twitter.com/svoiLGoyuK
— Yankeesource (@YankeeSource) May 19, 2022
Yankees manager Aaron Boone told reporters postgame that the southpaw has been dealing with Achilles discomfort, which may have contributed to Chapman’s poor performance on Sunday.
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) May 22, 2022
With Chad Green, one of the Yankees’ most reliable bullpen arms, scheduled to have Tommy John surgery, Chapman will need to figure out a way to get opposing hitters out without the overpowering fastball that he used to be known for.