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The Yankees need Aroldis Chapman to be dominant in 2021 to end their World Series drought. His newest pitch could be key to his future success.
Not many things fly under the radar when it comes to the New York Yankees. Somehow, Aroldis Champan‘s decision to add a splitfinger fastball to his pitching repertoire seems to be escaping the notice of the national media. Don’t expect that to remain the case for much longer.
The 33-year-old southpaw may be losing a few miles per hour off his electric fastball, but Chapman isn’t content to see his performance fade into the proverbial night. Instead, he’s working diligently to add evolve as a pitcher. The idea is that he must add diversity to his pitch mix as he ages to make up for declining velocity.
In recent seasons that’s meant Chapman throwing more breaking balls. In 2021 it’s going to feature something altogether new. The Cuban veteran is now prepared to unleash a splitfinger fastball on the American League.
What can Aroldis Champam do for the Yankees with his new pitch?
He threw the pitch a handful of times during his truncated 2020 campaign, but this Spring he’s fully integrated it into his pitching arsenal. Aaron Boone succinctly described the pitch as “gross” during a live interview with the YES Network crew during a recent Chapman outing. The Yankees manager went on to remark that catcher Gary Sanchez was giggling as a result of Chapman’s new offering.
Yankees fans should not expect Chapman to start featuring his breaking stuff ahead of his fastball, but the addition of the splitter could be massive for his effectiveness. It’s an offering that looks just like his fastball before diving out of the strike zone. The fading effect of the pitch will be particularly helpful for Chapman when he’s trying to retire elite right-handed batters.
Getting top-notch righties out has been a particular issue for Chapman during the postseason. If he can improve his performance against those hitters it could be the difference between a nice postseason run and a World Series title for a franchise that’s desperate to arrange a parade down the Canyon of Heroes this fall.
The development of Chapman’s splitfinger could easily be the most important thing that comes out of this year’s edition of Yankees Spring Training. If the pitch travels north it’s going to be bad news for hitters looking to succeed against New York in late-game situations.