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Dusty Baker on Aroldis Chapman: “We’re going to stretch him out” as a starter

Feb 21, 2012, 4:46 PM EST

Cincinnati Reds v Pittsburgh Pirates Getty Images

Initially the Reds planned to have Aroldis Chapman build up his arm strength as a starter in the Arizona Fall League and winter ball, but shoulder problems put that on hold and now the left-hander’s role for 2012 is somewhat unclear.

Dusty Baker said today that they’ll give Chapman an opportunity to start this spring and “if there’s not time and there’s not quality, you can always back off a guy.”

In other words, if he’s struggling to pitch multiple innings at a time–or if his shoulder starts barking again–the Reds can always shift him back to the bullpen. Baker also hinted that sending Chapman to the minors to continue working as a starter is a possibility that “depends on our needs.”

Chapman shifted to the bullpen full time in mid-2010 and has thrown 63 innings for the Reds with a 3.27 ERA and 90/46 K/BB ratio. His overpowering fastball velocity would be very intriguing if he can maintain it multiple times through the lineup, but Chapman’s shaky control would seemingly be an even bigger obstacle as a starter and the Reds already have a full rotation with Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Bronson Arroyo, Mike Leake, and Homer Bailey.

  1. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Feb 21, 2012 at 5:02 PM

    “And we’re going to make him pitch 400 innings. And if he doesn’t, and his arm falls off, I’ll beat him to death with it. Because I’m Dusty Baker and that’s how I treat my pitchers.”

    • ruehlmann - Feb 21, 2012 at 5:08 PM

      Lazy stock Dusty Baker reference for the win…

      • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Feb 21, 2012 at 5:08 PM

        Thanks!

  2. aaronmoreno - Feb 21, 2012 at 5:22 PM

    He’s as likely to start as Papelbon was.

  3. paperlions - Feb 21, 2012 at 5:25 PM

    To Baker, is stretching a guy out 150 pitchs/outing? 200? 250?

  4. godcanfirealdavis - Feb 21, 2012 at 5:55 PM

    Ask Prior and Wood how that worked out for em…

  5. metalhead65 - Feb 21, 2012 at 6:00 PM

    he will not be satisfied until chapmann goes under the knife. instead of stretching the guy out you do what it takes to become a starting pitcher! you already made moves to strengthen the pen so why bring that up? he needs not only the spring but the minor leagues to be successful as a starter. send him down and when he puts toger 5-6 quality starts you can talk about bringing him back to cincy. and by quality starts I mean more than 4-5 innings. they paid this guy 30 million bucks to be an ace not another average reds pitcher. he already proved last year he can’t go 2 innings without problems so what makes them think a spring training of strecthing him out will suddenly turn him into a ace? no what will happen is that he will struggle this year then have arm surgery and miss next year then come come back for the final year of his contract and have a monster year then sign with the yankees or red sox when he is a free agent.

  6. fuckingdontcare - Feb 21, 2012 at 6:14 PM

    Prior and Wood have become the Monica Lewinksy for Dusty. It’s outdated and lame. Get over it Cubs fans.

    Cueto and Leake, nuff said about Baker and stereotypes. Chapman will be in AAA to start the season.

    • metalhead65 - Feb 21, 2012 at 7:55 PM

      he did not have surgery but cuteo did miss time due to arm trouble early in the season. I am a reds fan who has seen his results first hand. first there was harrang who never had injury problems till baker got there and hasn’t since he left. then you can add volquez and bailey to the list of guys with arm problems. and do not forget chapmann spent time on the dl last year because dusty thought it would be a good idea to pitch him 4 days in a row. he never dominated like he had before after that. so please stop defending him on this point you just look silly.

    • cur68 - Feb 21, 2012 at 9:03 PM

      There was a lot of talk back in the day that Baker ruined those guys on the Cubs. Some guys have looked into it to see if Baker’s doing anything heinously wrong. Here’s a link to an article from David Gassko over at Hardball Times addressing that exactly:

      http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/dusty-baker-and-pitch-counts/

      If TLDR: then this is the telling sentence, “Dusty Baker is not a professional arm shredder; he only leaves his starters out there for about three-and-a-half more pitches than expected”. If ~3.5 pitches more than expected caused a guy to break down…he was maybe always going to break down?

      If the past few seasons is more your interest, here’s the guys at fangraphs:

      http://www.fangraphs.com/community/index.php/dusty-baker-and-pitch-counts/

      If TLDR then: “In 2009, just four teams had starters throw more than 115 pitches in 10% of their games. They were the Tigers (17%), Giants (12%), Royals (12%), and Reds (12%). In 2010, there are 13 teams whose starters have thrown 115 or more pitches 10% of the time. That group is led by the Rockies (19%), and includes the Giants (17%), Angels (16%), Astros (14%), Tigers (14%), Phillies (14%), Rangers (14%), Red Sox (14%), Brewers (12%), Dodgers (12%), Reds (12%), Cubs (11%), and Diamondbacks (11%).”

      So Baker’s not exactly unique nor is he doing anything ridiculously bad. He seems to have some pretty good pitchers, teams that are in a lot of close ball games, and he likes his matchups. If anyone’s leaving guys out there for too long the last few seasons, then Jim Leyland might warrant a nod or two or maybe Jim Tracy.

  7. godcanfirealdavis - Feb 21, 2012 at 9:25 PM

    Don’t forget about the world series against angels when he left pitchers in to long and blew it.. Dusty is a nice guy but pitcher killer in MLB.. Facts are facts…

  8. winkeroni - Feb 22, 2012 at 9:59 AM

    I’m a Cards fan and I feel bad for Reds fans because Dusty Baker manages their team. I’m not sure how he keeps getting hired and don’t think it’s far fetched that once promissing pitchers like Wood and Prior could sue him for damages.

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