Boone On WFAN: Chapman Will Hopefully Be Back Next Week

The Closer Has Been On The DL Since August 21

Mike's On
September 12, 2018 - 6:32 pm
Aroldis Chapman reacts after giving up the tying run during the ninth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.

USA TODAY Sports Images



Despite having 90 wins under their belt with 17 contests remaining, the Yankees find themselves with just a two-game lead over the Oakland Athletics for home field advantage in the American League Wild Card Game.

The importance of playing the win-or-go-home game in the Bronx is obvious. If New York squanders its lead over the Athletics, the club will have to fly all the way to the west coast following their season finale at Fenway. If the Yankees then win and advance to the next round, they will immediately have to fly back east to begin preparing for the ALDS that kicks off less than 48 hours later. 

Yankees manager Aaron Boone joined Mike's On Wednesday to discuss just how important it is for his team to earn the top Wild Card spot during the final few weeks of the season.

"Sure, because if we're playing in the Bronx in a few weeks in a game, that probably means we finished the season playing well, and that's what we're trying to get to now," Boone told Mike Francesa. "Just that up and down level of play we've had, where we've just struggled to get on that consistent roll where we're really beating teams up. I feel like our goal right now is to get that ship moving in the right way to where we're playing a really consistent brand of baseball..."

New York is competing for the top Wild Card spot due in part to the dominant performance from the Red Sox in the second-half of the season. Boston has already won an impressive 99 games this year, and were the first team in Major League Baseball to clinch a spot in the postseason with their win Tuesday night.

If New York is able to come out of the Wild Card Game victorious, the team will then face off against Boston in the American League Division Series.

But before the Yankees start worrying about the possibility of taking on their rivals in October, the Bronx Bombers will have to battle the Red Sox six more times in their final 17 games.

"Obviously they're who we're chasing. They've kind of set the benchmark this year," the Yankees manager said Wednesday about having two more series against Boston this season. "I mean you can't deny it with the year that they've had. In playing the best in the game, hopefully that's something that will motivate us and will bring out the best in us. As we continue to get healthier and healthier, hopefully we start playing a brand of baseball that matches up with the game's best.

"We know when we're right, we can beat anyone."

New York has enjoyed a strong performance out of their bullpen throughout the entire season. The team's relievers have a 3.25 ERA on the year, good enough for second in all of baseball, trailing only Houston's 2.88 bullpen ERA.

>>MORE: Murti: Could Judge Provide Yankees With A Willis Reed-Type Boost?

The Yankees' bullpen has continued to look strong over the last few weeks, even without the club's star closer Aroldis Chapman.

Chapman has a 2.11 ERA and 1.04 WHIP in 47.0 innings this season, racking up 31 saves and 84 strikeouts. However the 30-year-old southpaw has been on the DL since August 21 with left knee tendinitis.

Boone delivered some good news on the Chapman front Wednesday evening, telling WFAN he hopes Chapman can be activated off the DL as soon as next week.

"Aroldis [Chapman> threw a side today in Tampa. He's flying up to New York tonight," said Boone. "He'll throw another side this weekend, then a simulated game with the idea that hopefully he'll be back next week which obviously gives us another dynamic arm at the back-end [of the bullpen>."

Chapman isn't the only Yankees star nearing a return to the team. 

Aaron Judge has been on the DL since July 26 with a fractured wrist after the slugger was hit by a pitch.While his recovery has taken longer than the team originally expected, Boone said the outfielder is finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and should be back with the team within the next week or two.

"Judge is doing really well. He's going to actually hit in a BP group today. He's been hitting early the last couple of days," Boone said about the 26-year-old slugging outfielder. "Everything's going well. He's bouncing back everyday.

"We're hoping that he can get back for the final 10 days - two weeks of the season to where he's playing regularly..."