BOSTON — The closer who signed the biggest contract ever given to a relief pitcher is no longer a closer.
Joe Girardi temporarily pulled the plug on Aroldis Chapman on Saturday, saying he will use him “at any point” in the game in an attempt to get him back on track.
“He’s been scuffling for the last 10 days, two weeks,” Girardi said. “And I just thought for us to get him on track, maybe the best way would be to move him around a little bit until he gets going and then when we get him going like I believe he will get going, there’s a good chance I’ll put him right back in that closer’s role and manipulate the other three guys.”
For now, the role will be shared by Dellin Betances and David Robertson depending on “matchups.” Robertson pitched the eighth and Betances the ninth in Saturday night’s 4-3 win over the Red Sox.
Girardi said Friday afternoon that Chapman was his closer, but that night he made it four straight poor outings, giving up two eighth-inning runs in a 9-6 loss to Boston.
Girardi said the club has eliminated the possibility that Chapman — signed to a five-year, $86-million free-agent deal in the offseason — is hiding an injury or tipping his pitches. “We’ve looked at everything,” he said. “And I really think it comes down to his location. He’s been up in the zone more.”
When Girardi spoke with Chapman to discuss the demotion, “he said he’s here to help us win, whatever it takes. And he knows that he needs to get back on track and that he’s scuffled a little bit, but he said I’m willing to do anything, I just want to win.”
Chapman said after Saturday night’s game, “We had a conversation. They told me about it. I accepted their decision and [I’ll pitch] wherever they need me.”