After a lot of drama about whether Reds flame-throwing left hander Aroldis Chapman should start or stay as the closer, the Reds finally came to a decsion to leave him in the closer role. Leaving the fifth spot in the starting rotation open for Mike Leake.
Chapman came out earlier this week and made it clear that he would prefer to be the closer rather than be in the starting rotation. These comments did play a major role in the decision that Walt Jocketty and Dusty Baker made. But Jocketty wanted to make it very clear that it wasnt the only factor that swayed his decision, ”No. 1, we don’t let players tell us where they want to play, but it certainly is a factor because he’s comfortable in that role and had success in that role.”
The argument that many Reds fans had with Chapman in the rotation was how much a catasrophe the Stephen Strasburg situation was last year. There was no doubt that Chapman was going to be on an inning limit and if the Reds were going to make a playoff run, how would the Reds handle that? The Reds already watch his innings in his closing role so you can only imagine how tight they would be in the starting situations.
Last year the Reds had four guys who pitched over 200 innings, which is basically unheard of in modern day MLB. Mike Leake is a guy who can seemingly pitch 200 innings also. The Reds pitching situation, as while it may be stressful for the people involved, it is a problem that many organizations would die for. The Reds pitching staff is one of the best in the league and having the issue of finding out of whether to put an All-Star in the bullpen or starting rotation isn’t all that bad of an issue to deal with in the big picture.
When the Reds signed Chapman, the plan was to put him into the starting rotation eventually. But after Chapman’s 38 saves last year it gave the Reds some thoughts on just how dominant Chapman could be at the end of the game. The Reds also signed former Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton to close in case they were to put Chapman in the rotation. But it appears that he will be the set up man and will sometimes close if Chapmen is not available on that given day. This gives the Reds a chance to shorten the game to 7 innings and hand it over to their trusted hands down in the bullpen.
There is evidence for both sides of this argument. On one side you have Joba Chamberlin, who busted into the league as a bullpen man throwing 100 mph and then the Yankees tried to move him into the starting rotation. Joba hasn’t been the same pitcher ever since and his career can only be described as hit or miss. On the other hand you have David Price, who came in with the Rays bullpen. Then was moved to the rotation and is now a Cy young contender year in and year out. It is a very risky maneuver to put these high profile, hard throwing bullpen pitchers into the starting rotation.
In my opinion, I think it was the right idea to leave Chapman in the bullpen. He was arguably the best closer in the major leagues last year and the Reds had one of their most successful seasons in a long time. With Chapman’s 100+ mph fastball and hard breaking slider, it makes almost all hitters look silly when trying to put the ball in play. As many people would say, why mess with something that is working already?