A little perspective, I'm only down on him compared to others projections and his ADP. Do I think he could still be a dominant closer... yes. But at the same time, I think there is a good amount of risk and uncertainty that comes with him this season. Here are a number of factors I took into account when I created my projections for Chapman:
- He had a poor finish to the season in 2015 (compared to normal Chapman) which concerned me just a bit.
- He not only changed teams, but went from the NL to the AL, and AL East which has a ton of great bats, besides Tampa Bay.
- There are 2 other elite arms in the bullpen, arguably the best non-closers in baseball in Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances. Also, Miller already had proven success closing for the Yankees. If Chapman was to pitch back to back days, Miller would likely snag save opportunities to keep Chapman fresh through the year.
- I project the Yankees to only have an average chance for save opportunities. While Vegas has the Yankees projected as the 4th best team in the AL (I'd take the under), I'm not sure how many of those games are going to be close games for save opportunities.
- Chapman has off the field issues, and while we don't know if he might face any type of discipline, it's just another red flag to consider.
- No one has thrown as many 100+ mph pitches over the last 3 seasons and it's not even close. Hell, add up every pitchers in baseball for 3 full seasons and Chapman still has more. That's a tremendous amount of arm strain, and while he's been seemingly fine, it's in the back of my mind as a concern. Circling back to my first point about Chapman, I didn't like the way he ended 2015 and I wonder if something mechanical had to do with the decline.
Even factoring in all of these concerns, I still have him 8th on my big board of relief pitchers. That's a huge drop off however compared to everyone else's top 1-3 closer ranking. If he fell to me at the right spot, I would take him in a draft, but I think that's very unlikely knowing how the rest of the world views him. There are very likely other closers I'd take in his place.