It was the story of the 2016 baseball playoffs. Forget asking your starting pitcher to go seven or eight innings deep. The starters for the Cubs, Dodgers, Indians, and Blue Jays (the four teams that made the NLCS and ALCS, respectively) were often only asked to go four or five innings. That’s because those teams had loaded up on (mostly) reliable bullpen arms that could cobble together enough outs to finish a game.
Cleveland almost rode the incredible duo of Andrew Miller and Cody Allen all the way to a World Series title. Manager Terry Francona bucked traditional baseball tactics of waiting until the 7th or 8th inning to put in his best relievers, calling on them to enter games much earlier and pitch multiple innings. The Dodgers did the same with Kenley Jansen and the Cubs rode closer Aroldis Chapman like a government mule en route to breaking their 108-year World Series championship drought. Chapman may have a ring now, but he’s not exactly thrilled with how it all played out.
“Personally, I don’t agree with the way he used me, but he is the manager and he has the strategy. 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,” Chapman said through an interpreter, according to ESPN’s Andrew Marchand.
Chapman has always been a 9th inning, three-out guy. But Chicago manager Joe Maddon called on him in the 8th inning in five different postseason games and even a few times in the 7th. One of those 7th inning games was Game 6 of the World Series, when the Cubs were up 7-2.
”I don’t think I needed to come into the game,” Chapman said, according to the Associated Press. ”Looking forward, the important game was going to be Game 7 because basically we had that game almost won. Then I had to pitch on Game 7 and I was a little tired. I felt a little different. It’s not the same. I could go out to pitch, do my job, but you’re not as efficient if you’re tired.”
Chapman would blow the save in Game 7 as the Indians forced extra innings. Luckily for Chapman (and diehard Cubs fans everywhere), Chicago would survive to win it in the 10th.
Chapman parlayed his World Series victory into a five-year, $83 million free agent contract with the New York Yankees.