“We made a decision on our rotation. It’s Cueto, Latos, Bronson, Homer Bailey and Leake.”
And with those 15 words from Reds manager Dusty Baker, fireballer Aroldis Chapman was sent back to the bullpen to begin his second season as the team’s closer.
The thought in spring training was for Chapman to crack the starting rotation so that the Reds could make more full use of his fastball that consistently hovers close to 100 mph. However, without a third pitch to go with his fastball and slider, General Manager Walt Jocketty opined that sending Chapman back to the bullpen was the best thing for the Reds.
It’s hard to argue with him.
With the same cast of characters last season, Cincinnati won the National League Central by nine games over the St. Louis Cardinals, finishing at 97-65, only one victory shy of the Washington Nationals’ league-leading mark. They eventually lost to the Giants 3 games to 2 in the NL Division Series.
Had Chapman supplanted Leake as the Reds’ fifth starter, Jonathan Broxton would’ve taken over the Reds’ closer duties. Apparently, neither Baker nor Jocketty wanted any part of that. Broxton was affective after coming over to the Reds from the Royals last season, going 3-3 with four saves and an ERA of 2.82 in 25 appearances. He will remain as Chapman’s set-up man.
Chapman won the closer’s job last season after an injury to Sean Marshall. The 25-year old Cuban native was 5-5 with 38 saves in 43 chances, while striking out 122 and walking only 23 in 71 2/3 innings.
The Reds’ starting rotation of Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Bronson Arroyo, Bailey and Leake combined to go 66-42, with an ERA of 3.62. Only Leake failed to throw more than 200 innings, finishing with 179.
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