The Chicago Cubs were easily the feel-good story of 2016. The team finally broke its lengthy championship drought, defeating the Cleveland Indians in one of the most exciting World Series in years. But despite the positive vibes surrounding the club, not every player was happy with their role during the team’s postseason run.
Former Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman believes he was misused by manager Joe Maddon during the postseason, according to Andrew Marchand of ESPN.
“Personally, I don’t agree with the way he used me, but he is the manager and he has the strategy,” Chapman said during a conference call to officially announce his new five-year, $86 million deal as the Yankees’ closer. “My job is to be ready, to be ready to pitch, however that is, however many innings that is, I need to be ready for that. I need to go in and do my job.”
“There were couple of games, but the one I can point to is Game 6,” Chapman said when asked for specifics for his criticism. “The game was open and I don’t think he needed to [leave] me in the ninth. The important game was going to be Game 7 because we had that game almost won. The next day I came in tired.”
With the Cubs up 7-2 in the seventh inning of Game 6, Maddon turned to Chapman to put the Indians away. He was able to induce a groundout to end the seventh, but remained on for the eighth inning despite the team’s lead. Even after the Cubs scored two additional runs in the top of the ninth, Chapman came out to start the bottom of the inning. He was replaced after walking Brandon Guyer on five pitches. In total, Chapman threw 20 pitches during the outing.
At the time, many wondered whether using Chapman at the time was the right move. With a large lead, and Game 7 looming the following night, Maddon could have relied on one of his lesser relievers to get the job done. By leaving Chapman out there, he risked tiring out the pitcher before the most important game of the series.
That’s precisely what happened. Chapman entered Game 7 “tired,” and it showed. With a man already on first, Chapman allowed a double to Guyer, and then gave up a game-tying three-run home run to Rajai Davis. His fastball didn’t seem to have its usual zip, likely due to overuse.
Despite feeling worn down, Chapman never went to Maddon.
“I never told him about my opinion with the way he was using me,” Chapman said. “The way I feel as baseball players we are warriors. Our job is to be ready to do what we need to do on the field. They send me out there to pitch, I’m going to go out there and pitch.
In the end, it didn’t come back to bite them. The Cubs scored two runs in the 10th inning, winning their first World Series in over 100 years. In the process, both Chapman and Maddon were taken off the hook.
Because of that, it seems petty for Chapman to call out his former manager like this. Chapman just won the World Series and there’s no reason for him to throw his former manager under the bus. If things had gone the other way, maybe Chapman’s criticisms would be justified, but that didn’t happen.
The upside, for both Maddon and Chapman, is that the two won’t have to work together moving forward. Chapman signed a five-year, $86 million deal to return to the New York Yankees this offseason. It was the biggest deal ever given to a reliever.
A big reason Chapman received that historic deal was his performance during the 2016 postseason. While it may have ensured him a large payday, that type of workload is not likely to continue going forward.
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