When the Yankees traded for Aroldis Chapman for a pittance of their farm system, they figured Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller would be good enough to hold down leads at the end of games. They were correct, but unfortunately for the Yankees, the number of leads Betances and Miller had to protect was much fewer than the team hoped over the 29 games Chapman missed.
Chapman's return Monday certainly bolsters a current team strength, but other facets of this Yankees club must get things fully together for it to make a difference.
The Yankees offense remains the team's biggest concern. Despite a couple of fine performances in the past week, Yankees batters continue to have trouble getting hot at the plate for extended periods. Some of the Yankees regulars are in deep slumps and the club is down one of the power sources in Alex Rodriguez, who is on the disabled list, and Jacoby Ellsbury has been out the last couple of days after showing some life recently.
On the rubber, rotation members pitched well in their last turns, but until the offense does their part, they might need to be better than just good. The rotation strung together five straight quality starts until Luis Severino's four earned runs in 6 2/3 innings Sunday night. Even that outing was better than the results as Severino fanned nine batters, and really made just two mistake pitches to David Ortiz.
Finally, none of the middle relievers leading up to Betances, Miller and Chapman have stepped up to be part of the bridge to the seventh inning. At the onset of the season, Chasen Shreve was hoping to be an important member of the middle relief crew and Johnny Barbato looked as if he would contribute some important innings as well. Neither pitcher has been able to uphold their end of the deal of late.
With a rotation that does not go seven innings daily, middle relief is quite important, because the club is not going to be able to run Betances, Miller and Chapman out three days in a row. While Yankees manager Joe Girardi has the ability to split the three relievers up and create some sort of cycle of use, he might feel pressured to keep them in line for the seventh, eighth and ninth innings when the team holds a lead more often than not.
Having three top-tier relievers is a luxury, one that will go to waste if the other 22 members of the team cannot deliver the necessary production to provide leads to convert to much-needed wins.