New York Yankees: Aroldis Chapman cleared to return; Tommy Kahnle out?

The Yankees bullpen received some positive news Friday afternoon, but it could be overshadowed by some bad news.

As the New York Yankees get ready for their home opener against the rival Boston Red Sox, they received some great news; their All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman has been cleared to return to the team.

Chapman has been on the COVID-19 injured list since July 11, right at the beginning of summer camp. Under the new protocol, players who test positive for COVID-19 must test negative twice before being cleared to return to their team.

Chapman’s return will fortify the back-end of their already strong bullpen, pushing interim closer Zack Britton back to his role as the 8th inning man. In his four seasons in New York, the six-time All-Star has recorded 111 saves with 291 strikeouts in 190 innings pitched. It is unclear when he will officially return to action, but the team eagerly awaits his return to the mound.

However, with Chapman’s return, uncertainty surrounds another key member of the Yankees’ bullpen. Tommy Kahnle was unavailable in last night’s 8-6 victory over the Orioles for “undisclosed reasons.” Kahnle has been one of the Yanks’ most effective relievers and has been serving as their 8th inning man in Chapman’s absence.

“Tommy wasn’t available tonight,” manager Aaron Boone said when asked why he didn’t hand the ball to Kahnle in the 8th, “We’ll have something on that tomorrow.”

Because of Kahnle’s absence, Jonathan Loaisiga stayed in for his third inning of work in the 8th. He subsequently let up a two-run home run to Pedro Severino to give Baltimore a 6-5 lead heading into the 9th. If it weren’t for Aaron Judge‘s clutch, game-winning 3-run home run in the 9th, Kahnle’s absence would have gotten more press.

Only time will reveal the reason for Kahnle’s absence, but in the middle of a pandemic, a mysterious absence leads to widespread assumptions that he has contracted the virus. If this is the case, it doesn’t only spell trouble for the Yankees, but the league as a whole.

The Marlins outbreak has already revealed the vulnerability of Major League Baseball’s return-to-play plan, and recent positive tests in the Phillies and Cardinals organizations cast further doubt on an already grim, shortened season.

Next: MLB: Get ready for more doubleheaders

Yankee fans will be happy to hear that they got Chapman back today, but the thrilled might be short-lived if more bad news comes out about Kanhle.

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