Hand up! We wondered if the Los Angeles Dodgers, in the midst of their hellacious bullpen woes, made a mistake not jumping the line for an Aroldis Chapman trade back in June when the Texas Rangers swooped in and got the deadline fesitivities started a month early.
Narrator: The Dodgers, indeed, did not make a mistake.
Somehow, patchwork options such as Ryan Brasier and Gus Varland, as well as trade acquisitions Joe Kelly, Ryan Yarbrough and Lance Lynn, have drastically improved the overall picture of the pitching staff. Lynn's work in the rotation has taken pressure off the 'pen while Yarbrough's bulk efforts have done the same. Brasier, Varland and Kelly have all done their part in traditional bullpen roles, regardless of sample size.
As for the Rangers and Chapman? What appeared to be spot-on, buy-now trade to help Texas protect themselves atop the AL West has turned into what Yankees fans have been telling the baseball community about all along: a complete implosion. Chapman's a ticking time bomb, and it's only a matter of a couple outings before he can go from looking like the most unhittable closer to an erratic batting practice pitcher.
Earlier this week, the Rangers officially had more blown saves than converted saves, with Chapman contributing three of the former since his arrival in early July. He's mostly been handling the eighth inning, though, which famously threw him off during his time in New York. When he wasn't pitching the ninth, he was even more lost than he was as a struggling closer.
Dodgers knew all along it was smart to avoid Aroldis Chapman trade as Rangers pay
Apologies to you, Andrew Friedman, for even bringing up the topic weeks ago. The Dodgers knew all along this wouldn't have been a sustainable move for their World Series hopes. Chapman's last few years in New York characterized who he's become. The performances weren't outliers.
Chapman makes any save situation a butt-cheek clencher, and he did again on Tuesday night against the Mets. With the Rangers clinging to a 2-0 lead, the left-hander gave up a solo homer with two outs on an 0-2 count to rookie Mark Vientos. The Rangers ended up winning, but Chapman took some shine off of the victory.
Then came the next night. Chapman was brought in for a tie game in the 10th. He walked two batters to load the bases (remember, ghost runner on second), and then hit DJ Stewart (?) to bring in the game-winning run for the Mets.
Though the veteran's advanced metrics put him above most of the league's relievers, his walk rate, chase rate, and barrel percentage are enough to instill fans with worry, regardless of how everything else grades out. Chapman is the poster boy of the eye test defying any and all stats.
If Chapman has been unable to swipe the closer role from Will Smith in Texas, there was a next to zero shot he would've been able to compete with Dodgers' star Evan Phillips for the job. And Friedman likely knew utilizing Chapman outside of the ninth would only further affect the left-hander's psyche.
In the end, the Dodgers figured it was enough dealing with low-profile disasters in their bullpen, and didn't need a high-profile name to further magnify the unit's struggles. And they've been much better off for it.