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Aroldis Chapman is gonna be a setup man forever, I guess

May 17, 2012, 11:01 AM EDT

Aroldis Chapman Getty Getty Images

Danny Knobler has a column up today asking a question a lot of Reds fans have probably been asking themselves for some time: why in the heck is Aroldis Chapman still the Reds’ setup guy?

He hasn’t allowed a run all year. He has retired 22 of his last 24 hitters. He has a K/BB ratio of 34/5 in 19 and a third innings.  He’s simply dominant. And, given that he was a starter in Cuba and a starter in the Reds minor league system before being put in the pen last year, he should probably be given a chance to start, yes?  No, say the Reds. At least not yet:

“On our team right now, he should stay in the bullpen,” second baseman Brandon Phillips said. “We need someone in the bullpen like him” … [General Manager Walt] Jocketty doesn’t rule out Chapman in the rotation at some point this year, but he also said, “We may become resigned to the fact that he may spend this year in the bullpen.”

Walt: you run the team. How do you become “resigned” to this?  Dusty Baker is in the last year of his contract and you’re his boss.  There’s no way to force that issue here?

Yes, he’s an amazing relief pitcher. But Roy Halladay would be an amazing relief pitcher if you turned him into a setup man. As would every other good starter in baseball. Given that a starter pitches three times as many innings in a season as a setup man, you shouldn’t leave a guy like Chapman in the pen unless and until he shows you he can’t start.

And he can’t show you that until you give him a chance to try.

  1. biasedhomer - May 17, 2012 at 11:05 AM

    He wouldn’t be able to hold up as a SP. Bet bet is to have him as the fire ball closer.

    • atlrod - May 17, 2012 at 11:20 AM

      What’s it like to know the future?

    • El Bravo - May 17, 2012 at 11:20 AM

      This is simply not based on anything but your opinion. In FACT, he’s changed his approach completely this year and now doesn’t rely on overpowering as much as keeping the batter off balance by changing speeds a lot. It is working like a charm, clearly. He is a perfect candidate to be a starter now, more than ever before.

      • wlschneider09 - May 17, 2012 at 11:30 AM

        Is this true? This is an honest question and not a jab, at the beginning of the season I would have stood on the opinion that Chapman’s control issues and inability to maintain his velocity deep into starts would suggest that he might be better in the pen. But clearly the results from this year indicate otherwise. I haven’t seen him pitch since last year. Something must have changed.

      • El Bravo - May 17, 2012 at 11:44 AM

        It is true. His fastball is way down from 100+ mph, to a “slow” upper 90’s now. He isn’t trying to throw his arm off, instead he’s keeping batters off balance by mixing pitches better.

      • skeleteeth - May 17, 2012 at 1:17 PM

        Yeah that’s all Red’s broadcasters talked about at the end of ST and the beginning of this season when he came in late; shaving off MPH for the sake of hitting spots. He just looks more comfortable this year and is quicker to the plate.

      • El Bravo - May 17, 2012 at 1:47 PM

        Right. That’s the other thing. He used to be slower than molasses in between pitches, but now, he’s like friggin’ Mark Buerhle out there.

      • wlschneider09 - May 17, 2012 at 11:21 PM

        Thanks for the info. We just don’t get a lot of reds games out here.

  2. lpd1964 - May 17, 2012 at 11:10 AM

    How do you know he wouldn’t hold up as a starter? Sounds like Baker made that comment. This decision with Chapman borders on ludicrous. Prior to last nights start, Leake was in the rotation with a 7.11 ERA and 0-5. Yeah, Leake pitched ok last night but cmon, get Chapman either in the rotation or as the closer-a 30 million dollar setup guy?

  3. atlrod - May 17, 2012 at 11:20 AM

    At least Dusty won’t keep him out of high leverage situations for the sake of the almighty Save. Still… put the man in the rotation. This is a waste of his considerable abilities.

  4. randygnyc - May 17, 2012 at 11:29 AM

    Maybe the reds know something about how his stuff translates after 75, 80 pitches. I can’t speak to his Cuban/minor league history. Their developmental guys obviously think he can’t consistently pitch 7 innings, or he would be starting. Even dusty knows that starters are infinitely more valuable than set up men. I’ll venture the guess they know something we do not.

    • atlrod - May 17, 2012 at 11:36 AM

      I think you may be overestimating Dusty Baker.

  5. hushbrother - May 17, 2012 at 11:57 AM

    Maybe Walt is waiting till next year when Dusty is gone, thereby decreasing the likelihood of Chapman ruining his arm.

  6. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - May 17, 2012 at 12:19 PM

    If it ain’t broke, don’t maximize the value of your assets?

    It is frustrating to see the Reds get dimes on the dollar for their investment in Chapman. I’ll give them some credit for not jerking him around like so many other teams do to young pitchers with undecided roles. The kid can concentrate on his job and it seems to be working.

    • The Dangerous Mabry - May 17, 2012 at 12:25 PM

      I imagine you could have just posted “See username”, because it makes the point perfectly.

  7. Jonny 5 - May 17, 2012 at 12:23 PM

    I think everyone is overreacting here. If I had a dollar for every time I heard “We’re not going to do ______ and then the team turns around and does it anyway, I’d be rich. It seems to me they are taking their time in evaluating his value and he’ll either be a closer or a starter very soon. Either that or I’m wasting a bench spot on my fantasy team right now waiting for that. He is proving himself to be more valuable than expected, when that happens teams are forced to put them where they deserve to be more often than not. No matter what is said to the contrary.

    • thekcubrats - May 17, 2012 at 12:28 PM

      If you’re leaving a guy with nearly 2K/IP and microscopic peripherals on your fantasy bench…

      • Jonny 5 - May 17, 2012 at 12:48 PM

        “If you’re leaving a guy with nearly 2K/IP and microscopic peripherals on your fantasy bench…”

        He is one of my lowest producers pitching. He doesn’t pitch enough innings to compile points and doesn’t get the “save” . For example Henry Rodriguez has more points than Chapman and he’s blown a couple saves for – points. Still he has more points. If he becomes a starter or closer he will be used right away. Which I hope for.

  8. mrredlegz - May 17, 2012 at 12:24 PM

    The Reds’ bullpen has been decimated by injury so far in 2012. Chapman was ready to join the rotation out of ST, but with the starting pitching depth and the bullpen injuries, the ‘pen was and is where Chappy is needed. Leake has sucked so far, yes, but he was solid last year and his leash is long. Bailey is out of options, but pitching pretty decent for a back end guy. Yeah, everyone wants to see Chapman starting games, but BP is right when he says that the Reds need an Aroldis Chapman type in the ‘pen right now. And no, he won’t be closing. Not so good on back to back days, let alone 3 or 4 in a row. Besides, Marshall is like 7/8. I’ll take it. Chapman will be starting eventually….by next year’s opening day, for sure.

  9. metalhead65 - May 17, 2012 at 12:38 PM

    Craig, you obviously have not read the book of dusty where this makes perfect sense along with not batting your 2 best hitters,Votto and Bruce back to back because they are both left handed. thta is right up there with changing your lineup everyday no matter the results of the game before or keeping putting a guy out there everyday batting .088 because he is ready to heat up. as for jocketty not standing up to him he is to busy trying to sign and overpay every washed up ex-card who played for him in st.louis. boy the reds ure are lucky they outbid everybody else on signing ludwick to solve their left field problem aren’t they?wait you mean teams were not lined up to pay him 2.5 million to bat .177?yes I hate the cards but come on even their fans have to laugh every time he signs somebody like edmonds,renteria,and ludwick and not only sign them but pay them for what they did years ago for the cards. or when he is not doing he is trading away prized prospects for a pitcher who looks just like they traded away along with those prospects. the only hope reds fans have is that at the end of the season they get rid of jocketty along with dusty.

    • metalhead65 - May 17, 2012 at 2:40 PM

      I see cards fans are upset with me again but come on you have to admit if these guys were still any good they would not be ex-cards or somebody besides walt would be signing them. and you can’t be sober and taking up for baker and his beyond stupid moves he makes as manager. I know he has a winning record but not hard to do when the 2 best players you managed were juiced up and setting records.

  10. callmecynical - May 17, 2012 at 1:53 PM

    He’s in the role of set-up RP right now because the Reds have a shortage of Lefty RP’s. When Miguel C comes back they will probably try AC as a starter. Bailey is inconsistent, Leake has suffered from run support shortages.

  11. yahmule - May 17, 2012 at 2:22 PM

    Being a stubborn jackass is Baker’s defining trait. Trying to show him logic will only irritate him and strengthen his resolve to cling to an indefensible position.

  12. js20011041 - May 17, 2012 at 3:12 PM

    Having one of your most talented pitchers, that you’ve signed to a lucrative free agent contract, pitch as a single inning set up guy is the baseball equivalent of using leeches as a medical treatment. It’s outdated and only makes sense if you don’t think about it.

  13. ezthinking - May 17, 2012 at 3:44 PM

    Does anyone realize that Chapman is make $2 million a years? That is setup man money. Could he make it as a starter? Maybe. The Reds will find out soon enough.

    Pitching hasn’t been the Reds problem, tied for fourth in the NL in runs given up; the pathetic 11th in runs scored in a hitters park is the real problem.

  14. ezthinking - May 17, 2012 at 3:47 PM

    and he just coughed up the lead, BTW.

    • The Dangerous Mabry - May 17, 2012 at 4:41 PM

      Yep. He’s totally washed up.

      It was technically an unearned run, but it was at least a tough play for Stubbs.

  15. Walk - May 17, 2012 at 6:07 PM

    With dusty as my manager i would not start aroldis either. Think about mark prior and kerry wood for a moment. No way im letting him mess with aroldis if there is a chance that a better manager for pitchers is incoming. I like dusty, i think for most part he is a great manager, but the past problems his cubbies had with wood and prior damaged any confidence i have in him handling a young starter.

  16. JT - May 19, 2012 at 6:25 PM

    Once Bray comes back he needs to be inserted into the rotation. They paid him too much money to be in the bullpen. It’s time to take the training wheels off in let him throw.

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