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Aroldis Chapman continues to dominate out of the bullpen

Apr 21, 2012, 11:39 AM EDT

Aroldis Chapman Getty Getty Images

After striking out two over a scoreless inning in yesterday’s win over the Cubs, Aroldis Chapman has now worked nine scoreless innings in six relief appearances this season. Given that the Reds considered using him as a starter during spring training, this is a pretty appropriate time to look at his overall numbers. And yes, they are nothing short of fantastic.

Chapman has allowed just three hits (two singles and a triple) and no walks. It’s a stunning turnaround for someone who averaged 7.4 BB/9 last year and didn’t go more than five consecutive appearances without issuing a walk. Equally impressive, he has fanned 17 of the 30 batters he has faced this year, which means he has a strikeout percentage of 56.7 percent. Granted, we’re talking about a small sample size here, but Dodgers’ reliever Kenley Jansen led the majors with a 44 percent strikeout percentage last year.

Chapman has averaged 96.5 mph on his fastball, down a couple ticks from what we’ve seen in the past, but sacrificing a little heat has clearly done wonders for his command. And with a swinging strike rate of 21.5 percent, his fastball and hard-biting slider are still plenty good enough to put batters away.

As for Chapman finally getting his chance as a starter, well, nothing appears imminent. Mike Leake and Homer Bailey are the most vulnerable to get the boot, but they’ll likely get a handful of starts before any changes are made, especially with set-up man Nick Masset still on the disabled list with a right shoulder injury. Bailey, who is out of options, allowed four runs (one earned) over seven innings yesterday and has a 3.86 ERA over his first three starts. Leake, who will start today against the Cubs, has allowed eight runs in 12 1/3 innings (5.84 ERA) over his first two starts.

  1. prosourcetalk - Apr 21, 2012 at 11:45 AM

    WHY IS HE IN THE BULLPEN GAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

    • soobster - Apr 22, 2012 at 11:25 AM

      He’s in the bullpen so they don’t end up like the Red Sox…

  2. illogic87 - Apr 21, 2012 at 12:00 PM

    this is a tommy john surgery in the making

    • paperlions - Apr 21, 2012 at 12:09 PM

      Every pitcher is TJ surgery in the making….the only factor is whether they retire first or not (see Moyer, Jaime)

  3. randygnyc - Apr 21, 2012 at 12:01 PM

    I think some of these guys who throw really hard, without 3 great pitches, should be in the pen. Chapman has enough control issues, but when he tires, he loses velocity and command. IMO, he can and will be a dominating closer.

    • paperlions - Apr 21, 2012 at 12:11 PM

      He was always a starter before the Reds threw him in the pen for the playoff run in 2010. He does not lose velocity or control as his pitch count elevates during a start. He loses velocity when used multiple days in a row and he loses control when he tries to light up the gun and fails to repeat his delivery.

  4. randygnyc - Apr 21, 2012 at 12:55 PM

    Paper, my point is that his stuff isn’t good enough to get through a MLB lineup 3 times, every fifth day. That is atleast the minimum required to be a starting pitcher in this league. Obviously, I’m not the only one who thinks that.

    • metalhead65 - Apr 21, 2012 at 1:27 PM

      his stuff looked pretty good during spring training when they told him he was a starter. and had he been given the amount of time in the minors to develop instead of being rushed to the majors and tossed in the pen he would already be a starter and probably a very good one. but the reds have no idea what they are doing with him which gives dusty more time to abuse him before he under goes tommy john surgery.

    • paperlions - Apr 21, 2012 at 1:27 PM

      You are basing that on what? His stuff has been plenty good to get through lineups any time he has had the chance to do so. Nearly everyone in the industry think Chapman should start…that Cinci is too stupid to make the correct decision because they have more options at starter than reliever has no basis on the facts.

  5. ezthinking - Apr 21, 2012 at 7:31 PM

    This is a better way to control his innings than the Nat’s 160 or so and done with Stras. He’s showing control. Get him stretched out for the second half.

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