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Stopped before he starts: Aroldis Chapman is staying in the Reds’ bullpen

Apr 2, 2012, 1:50 PM EDT

Aroldis Chapman Getty Images

Aroldis Chapman spent all offseason and the first month of spring training preparing for a potential move to the rotation, but with Opening Day right around the corner the Reds have decided to keep the flame-throwing left-hander in the bullpen.

Ryan Madson undergoing season-ending Tommy John elbow surgery likely played a part in the decision, as did the Reds having plenty of rotation depth beyond Chapman, but manager Dusty Baker also told John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer that “Bill Bray isn’t ready to be late-inning lefty right now.”

That seems debatable at best considering Bray has a 3.40 ERA and 74/27 K/BB ratio in 77 innings during the past two seasons, with the raw stuff to match, and has held opponents to a .201 batting average during that time. If healthy Bray could certainly serve as the primary lefty setup man in front of lefty closer Sean Marshall.

Of course, that doesn’t mean keeping Chapman in the bullpen is the wrong move. In theory giving a young pitcher every opportunity to show that he can handle a 200-inning starting role before relegating him to a 65-inning bullpen role makes all kinds of sense, but Chapman’s control problems provide plenty of reason to be skeptical that he could thrive as a starter. Still, the waffling on his role after rushing him to the majors isn’t helping Chapman’s development any.

  1. ruehlmann - Apr 2, 2012 at 2:05 PM

    I think the Bray comment (“isn’t ready”) was about his health rather than his ability/track record. His groin has bugged him all spring.

    You can still have all kinds of debate over the merit of this move, & I tend to agree: the waffling & shortsightedness of the move are a bit troubling.

    • jwbiii - Apr 2, 2012 at 2:28 PM

      Bray got lit up yesterday. Overreacting is probably the right way to go.

  2. prosourcetalk - Apr 2, 2012 at 2:34 PM

    The Reds are their own worst enemy

  3. lpd1964 - Apr 2, 2012 at 3:33 PM

    Leake-spring ERA-5.14, Bailey-Spring ERA-7.93, Chapman-spring ERA-2.12. Chapman starts in the bullpen. Why are the reds paying Chapman 30 million to be a setup guy? Makes absolutely no sense.

    • paperlions - Apr 2, 2012 at 3:49 PM

      Nope, it never has. I think this is the Reds sticking a guy in the bullpen because he can throw 100 mph and such guys typically are in the bullpen. Which is like having Corey Patterson hit leadoff because he’s kind of fast even if he has a career OBP below .300 (or Stubbs and his .320 OBP). They seem to pigeon hole guys based on outdated dogma rather than trying to get the most out of their available resources. Just strange.

      • notsofast10 - Apr 2, 2012 at 5:53 PM

        They still will have two years left after this year on that $30M contract so what’s the rush!!! Money well spent ayyyy!

  4. yahmule - Apr 2, 2012 at 4:44 PM

    Dusty Baker’s only real skill as a manager was his willingness to let Barry Bonds do as he pleased under all circumstances. Surprisingly that talent hasn’t translated into success with other franchises.

    Identical 322 -326 records in four seasons in Chicago and Cincinnati. Along the way, he’s ruined some young pitchers and done his best to derail some careers. His first year as Reds skipper he wanted to start Scott Hatteberg over Joey Votto, but couldn’t pull it off. The guy is a disaster.

  5. metalhead65 - Apr 2, 2012 at 7:21 PM

    hey notsofast10, it is nice for the next team he signs with that they spend the last 2 years of his deal to decide which way he goes so they do all the training for that team. if the reds make him a starter then he will spend next season learning and his last year dominating. if they make him a closer the same thing happens after which he will be a developed pitcher for the yankees or red sox to sign.

  6. illadelphiasphinest - Apr 2, 2012 at 7:38 PM

    Busty Baker may be the worst manager ever. He has no clue how to manage his pitchers. Cincy where pitchers go to die.

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