Quick Hit: Girardi Names Chapman The New Closer

Joe Girardi was on YES' "Yankees Hot Stove" show last night with Bob Lorenz and Jack Curry, and he talked a lot about how he plans to utilize his group of new players this season.  Obviously everybody knows what the big story is in there and Joe didn't waste any time addressing it.  He came out and said that Aroldis Chapman will be the closer going into Spring Training this year, with Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances serving as co-primary setup men. Not exactly earth-shattering news in and of itself, but noteworthy in that the announcement was a major deviation from Girardi's strategy last year when there was the Betances/Miller closer competition.  As Curry pointed out, Joe waited until May of last season to officially declare Miller the closer.  This season he's making the call over a month before pitchers and catchers report.

Not that there's anything wrong with the decision.  It was assumed that Chapman would be taking over the closer role the minute the Yankees traded for him.  He's been pitching as a closer for a lot longer than Miller, and both Miller and Betances have been wildly successful as primary, 3+ out setup guys.  Now they'll pair up in that role and hopefully build a lockdown bridge to Chapman in the 9th.  With these roles now set, the Yankees can focus on building up the back end of the 'pen behind these guys and Joe can start thinking about how he wants to manage that group to keep his 3 horses fresh.

There is the issue of Chapman's potential suspension putting a dent in this plan, but early indications make it sound like any suspension MLB hands down to Chapman will not be an overly long one.  Regardless, the Yankees will be able to easily address that on the field by temporarily going back to their Miller/Betances closer/setup setup from last year.  Ken Rosenthal reported last week that MLB is likely to hand down the suspension to Chapman and the other players subject to one under the new domestic violence policy no later than March 1st.  If that's the case, the Yankees will have plenty of time to figure out their contingency plan.

If you want to see what Joe had to say about the other new acquisitions, YES made the video available already.  Check it out.