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article imageOp-Ed: Yankees Miller should keep closers role upon Chapman's return

By James Poellnitz     May 9, 2016 in Sports
Baseball's most feared pitcher returns tonight. Aroldis Chapman, fresh off a 30-game suspension for an offseason domestic violence incident, is eligible to make his season debut tonight when the New York Yankees welcome the Kansas City Royals.
Despite his recent transgressions, manager Joe Girardi has stuck to the notion that Chapman is his closer.
Who can blame him?
In Chapman, you have a overpowering left-hander who can throw 100 mph at will, not to mention the changeup and slider also in his arsenal. Those three pitches have led to four straight seasons with at least 100 strikeouts and an ERA below 2.54. He is the type of closer every team in baseball would to kill to have pitching the ninth inning and who the Yankees envisioned doing so when trading for him in the winter.
There is a very short list of relievers who look just as good or better than Chapman, and one of the names that would be on my list is already a member of the Yankees.
Andrew Miller has been the best relief pitcher in baseball this season. In 11.2 innings, he has yet to allow a run, walked only one batter and has the third-highest strikeout rate among qualified relievers.
He is following up a 2015 season in which he was one of just three relievers with at least 100 strikeouts (the other two are Chapman and teammate Dellin Betances) along with a 2.04 ERA and 36 saves in 38 chances. From the looks of things, he is only getting better as a closer.
It is too early to tell if the Yankees can turn their season around as they enter today with the third-worst record in the American League, but demoting Miller in favor of Chapman would be a mistake for a couple of different reasons.
The Yankees are in dire need of a rebuild. Doing so is not the Yankee way but neither is spending no money in free agency, which is what we saw this past offseason. The harsh reality is that this team has not been a realistic threat since 2012. They have more than $125 in million guaranteed money on the books already for next season and not many players on the farm on the way up.
The two most tradable assets are Miller and Chapman. Miller has two years and $18 million left on his deal beyond this season and Chapman is a free agent at season's end. If Miller doesn't close for the rest of the season, he potentially gets labeled as a setup man to teams which hurts his trade value.
The same can't be said for Chapman as his track record will have him pegged for baseball's biggest contract for a a reliever. As long as he is dominating hitters at the same rate we have seen throughout his career, teams won't care whether it's in the seventh, eighth or ninth inning in New York.
And then there is the interest of fairness.
Miller of course has said all the right things about the matter. As long as the Yankees are winning (which of course right now they are not), he doesn't care how he is used.
But how do you think his teammates feel?
You have a guy coming off of a suspension and never having been a part of this team coming in being handed one of the most important roles on the team. Is that the correct message to send to your ballclub?
At the end of the day Chapman's return gives the Yankees bullpen the most dominant collection of relievers in the game. Figuring out when each player should pitch is essentially a problem that every team in baseball would love to have. It's just that it seems like the right thing to do to allow baseball's best reliever in 2016 to remain in baseball's most prestigious relief role.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
More about Andrew Miller, New York Yankees, Joe Girardi, Aroldis chapman, Dellin Betances
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