As a MLB fan, I cannot help but wonder why in the world there is even talk of the Cincinnati Reds moving Aroldis Chapman from the bullpen to the rotation. Here is a dominant and fun-to-watch closer with unbelievable stuff sealing game after game for a division winner, and the management wants to change that? I hope they come to their senses and realize that they have Chapman right where he belongs already.
Dominating closer in 2012
Aroldis Chapman saved 38 games in 43 opportunities in 2012. He didn’t even start closing until nearly halfway through the season. After July 1, Chapman was 29 for 30. He throws over 100 mph consistently and has a devastating slider that makes hitters look sick, especially when they expect the high heat. He struck out 122 batters in 71.2 innings. These numbers tell me that Chapman should keep on closing.
Facing Aroldis Chapman as a starter only once in a series lets a manager set his lineup to work around him. The manager and the hitters would know that they will not have to face Chapman with the game on the line in the ninth inning. Managers may also know that they will not see Chapman at all in a series because he threw seven innings the day before or is scheduled to pitch the first or second game of the Reds’ next series.
With the threat of Aroldis Chapman in the bullpen, an opposing manager will have a decision to make late in the game. Chapman shrinks most games to seven or eight innings. As an opposing manager, I would consider using my best pinch hitter in the sixth or seventh inning of a close game to try to get that hit that puts me ahead and not have to face Chapman in the ninth. That hitter would not be available in the ninth. If Chapman starts, I could save my pinch hitter until after Chapman departs.
Why change what works?
On the January 11 edition of MLB Tonight, former Major League pitcher Al Leiter highlighted some pitchers who made the same transition from closer to starter. As starters, the pitchers had to throw far more innings and, therefore, lost a lot of velocity. Conversely, I recall once watching former Dodger Eric Gagne explain that when he switched from starter to closer, he could reach back and throw as hard as he could rather than having to save some for later in the game. Gagne holds the MLB record with 83 consecutive save conversions.
As a closer, Chapman can pitch most days each week and secure any lead. Elite closers are tough to find, and the Reds already have one in Chapman. Why would they even entertain the notion of changing what works? The Reds should keep Aroldis Chapman as the closer.
Interesting factoid: Aroldis rearranged spells “Rolaids,” which means relief for the Reds and heartburn for N.L. hitters.
Cincinnati Reds, Aroldis Chapman Player Page, reds.mlb.com.
MLB Network Broadcast, MLB Tonight, January 11, 2013.
Yahoo! Sports, Neftali Feliz Player Page, sports.yahoo.com/mlb.
Raymond became a baseball fan at a very young age. He played baseball through high school and soon after became a varsity coach. Raymond previously produced radio sports talk shows and hosted a weekly MLB radio call-in show. His favorite teams are the Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees. Follow Raymond on Twitter @RayBureau
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Filed Under: Major League Baseball