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Chapman Is Regular Season Closer, Postseason Choker

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Fans Following Chapman For The Last Ten Years Were Not At All Surprised By Tampa's Walk Off Homer


The guy who hit the walk-off home run is certainly newsworthy, but the pitcher who yielded it is a tired, old story that has been told nearly every year of the current decade. Mark Brousseau smashed the blast that won the American League Division Series for Tampa, undoubtedly the most important hit in his career.

Aroldis Chapman, the Yankee pitcher who gave it up, has been in that situation a dozen times. On most of the occasions Chapman choked, just as he did Friday night.

His first appearance was game two of the 2010 National League Division Series, giving up three runs on three hits in a blown save and a loss to the Phillies. He was brought into the ninth the next game with the Reds trailing 2-0, when he promptly yielded a one out double to Carlos Ruiz.

In Game Five of the NLDS in 2012, with the Reds trailing 6-3, Chapman entered in hopes to keep the Giants from adding to their lead. Chapman gave up a leadoff single to Brandon Crawford, who represented another insurance run for San Francisco.

His next postseason appearance came as a Cub, and again he was facing the Giants. Chicago had a 1-0 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth, and Chapman allowed a double to Buster Posey to put the tying run in scoring position.

In game three Chapman came in with the Cubs up 3-2 with two on in the eighth, only to give up a triple to Conor Gillespie. A subsequent single to Brandon Crawford gave San Francisco a 5-3 lead.

Joining the Yankees guaranteed that Chapman's postseason appearances would continue, but unfortunately his troubles did as well. Brought in for the ninth of an 8-8 game two of the 2017 ALDS against the Indians, Chapman in back to back innings allowed the potential winning runs to reach.

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Ditto for the next game when, with the Yankees up 1-0, Chapman came into the ninth to give up back to back singles to Jason Kipnis and Jose Ramirez. New York was able to come away with the win, in spite of another shaky outing by its closer, or choker.

Against the Astros in game two of the Championship Series, Chapman came in to pitch the ninth inning with the score tied at one. Jose Altuve hit his first pitch for a single, and he came around to score the winning run on Carlos Correa's walk off double.

It was the same opponent who took advantage of Chapman's postseason jitters in 2019, when the Astros were up three games to two. A 4-4 deadlock brought Chapman in to start the bottom of the ninth, yet once again the hard-throwing lefthander failed to keep Houston off the scoreboard.

George Springer drew a two-out walk, becoming Chapman's characteristic potential winning run. Four pitches later Altuve crushed a home run, sadddling Chapman with yet another postseason failure.

Just a week before surrendering the walk off to Tampa's Brousseau, Chapman struggled in his lone appearance in the A.L. Wild Card Series. Manager Aaron Boone summoned him from the bullpen in the eighth inning of an eight all game, after the Indians had gotten back to back lead off walks.

Cleveland's Cesar Hernandez mashed Chapman's first pitch for a single to left, thereby driving in Delino Deshields with the go-ahead run. The Yankees came back to regain the lead and hold on for the win, but it was in spite of the failure of their lefthanded All-Star reliever.

Managers for some reason keep turning to Chapman in close postseason games, even though his long history has shown he is much less effective in the playoffs than during the rest of the year. That closer Aaron Boone keeps summoning from the Yankees bullpen is not, nor will he ever be mistaken for, Mariano Rivera.

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