The Chicago White Sox defeated the New York Yankees on Saturday night, and this much is clear — Aroldis Chapman’s fastball isn’t what it used to be.
The Yankees tied the game in top of the ninth inning, but unfortunately for them, in the bottom of the frame Chapman did not look like his usual self.
In fact, despite a minuscule ERA to start the season, Chapman has run into some struggles early on. Against the White Sox on Saturday, Chapman gave up two hits, including the eventual game-winning run.
The flamethrower’s fastball averages out to about 99 MPH most nights, but in today’s era, that’s not exactly unique. Tim Anderson pointed this out postgame when asked how the White Sox were able to read Chapman so easily.
“Nowadays everybody’s throwing 99 mph, so it’s kinda regular,” Anderson said.
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Anderson can always be counted on to give an honest interview.
While Chapman has adjusted from early in his career — he is no longer just a fastball pitcher — odds are as he ages he’ll be easier to read. Pitch selection will become far more important that it was earlier in Chapman’s career, when he could simply mow hitters down with an electric fastball.
99 mph isn’t unique in today’s game. Increased grip, as well as stronger arms and better pitcher development make finding players like Chapman less rare.
Anderson also helped his own cause on the basepaths. The man who scored the eventual winning run was on Chapman’s mind as potential base-stealing threat.
“I wouldn’t say it was a distraction, but you do understand that he’s a fast runner,” Chapman said after blowing the save.
For New York, the loss was only their ninth of the season, so it doesn’t take away from an incredible start for the Bronx Bombers. But surely, Anderson’s patient approach against Chapman is one to look for across baseball if any struggles persist.