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Aroldis Chapman blows away the Cardinals

Jul 15, 2012, 11:22 PM EDT

Aroldis Chapman Getty Images

One would never know Aroldis Chapman was pitching for the third straight day for the first time in two years Sunday.

The Cuban left-hander fanned all three Cardinals he faced to protect a 4-2 lead in the ninth as the Reds completed their sweep tonight. Chapman pitched in all three games, striking out eight and allowing just one hit in three scoreless innings.

Chapman now has 79 strikeouts in 42 1/3 innings for the year. It would be the highest strikeout rate ever for a season of at least 40 innings. Here’s the top 10 in K/9 IP:

16.80 – Chapman (2012 Reds) – 79 K in 42.1 IP
16.10 – Kenley Jansen (2011 Dodgers) – 96 K in 53.2 IP
15.99 – Carlos Marmol (2010 Cubs): – 138 K in 77.2 IP
14.98 – Eric Gagne (2003 Dodgers): – 137 K in 82.1 IP
14.95 – Billy Wagner (1999 Astros): 124 K in 74.2 IP
14.93 – Brad Lidge (2004 Astros): 157 K in 94.2 IP
14.84 – Craig Kimbrel (2011 Braves): 127 K in 77 IP
14.77 – Armando Benitez (1999 Mets): 128 K in 78 IP
14.55 – Billy Wagner (1998 Astros): 97 K in 60 IP
14.38 – Billy Wagner (1997 Astros): 106 K in 66.1 IP

No starters on that list, obviously. The top K rate ever for a starting pitcher was Randy Johnson at 13.41 with the Diamondbacks in 2001 (372 K in 249.2 IP).

Chapman blew back-to-back save opportunities for the Reds on June 19 & 24, but he’s been on an incredible tear since, allowing just two hits in seven scoreless innings. 19 of his 21 outs during the span have come on strikeouts.

  1. canoyoulie - Jul 15, 2012 at 11:23 PM

    and the reds still want to move this guy to a starter? wow.

  2. Tim's Neighbor - Jul 15, 2012 at 11:37 PM

    I’d love to see what this guy could do as a starter. Granted, we wouldn’t see this high of a K rate, but him coming close to Randy Johnson’s superb peak isn’t out of the question.

  3. okwhitefalcon - Jul 15, 2012 at 11:52 PM

    He seems to be pitching more effectively post somersault(s).

  4. phillyphever - Jul 15, 2012 at 11:53 PM

    If there’s one thing to learn from the Bard experiment in Boston is that closers are closers for a reason: they don’t have the stamina to be effective for more than a few innings. Keep Chapman in the bullpen.

    • yahmule - Jul 15, 2012 at 11:55 PM

      He was pretty effective as a SP in spring training this year.

    • Alex K - Jul 16, 2012 at 9:28 AM

      C.J. Wilson and Ryan Dempster disagree that closers should stay closers.

    • cggarb - Jul 16, 2012 at 11:42 AM

      “If there’s one thing to learn from one data point, it’s that it supports a sweeping generalization.”

      It’s also specifically nonsense, in this instance:

      Chapman is a closer for two and a half reasons: (1) The Reds have 5 starters (who have made every start this season.) Of them, I believe only Mike Leake had options. Of them, only Leake is even marginally capable of relieving (and his multi-pitch arsenal is probably a bad fit for the pen).

      (2) Ryan Madson got hurt in spring training.

      (2.5) Sean Marshall sortof struggled in the closer role early in the season.

      • contraryguy - Jul 16, 2012 at 12:52 PM

        (3) The other options are using Alfredo Simon as closer, but that takes away the best long reliever/’situation X’ kinda guy that the Reds have; OR, wait for Nick Masset to return and make him the closer. The latter option scares the hell out of many Reds fans, including myself. He blew 6 saves last year, and that was when he was healthy.

      • contraryguy - Jul 16, 2012 at 1:06 PM

        and while I’m thinking of it, do I really need to bring up Danny Graves, the Reds poster child for ‘closer to starter disaster’?

  5. yahmule - Jul 15, 2012 at 11:54 PM

    It’s really enjoyable to watch Chapman dominate hitters this way. He’s turning out to be as special as people thought he might be when he first arrived in MLB.

    Unit holds seven of the top 11 K/9 seasons in MLB.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/strikeouts_per_nine_season.shtml

  6. rollinghighwayblues - Jul 16, 2012 at 12:08 AM

    Not to be an ass, Matthew, but Chapman also threw three days in a row in 2010, September 9,10 and 11.

    • Matthew Pouliot - Jul 16, 2012 at 1:05 AM

      Ugh… not sure how I missed that on my scan. Thanks!

  7. gostros19 - Jul 16, 2012 at 12:28 AM

    For once Astros dominate something here!

  8. randygnyc - Jul 16, 2012 at 1:20 AM

    I was sad the Yankees weren’t interested in signing chapman. A really special kid. Can’t help but rooting for him every chance I get. Seems like he operates under the influence of adrenalin. Not sure how that would translate over 100 pitches every 5 days. If he’s going to be limited to low to mid 90’s, he may not be as effective and surely not as dynamic. If he’s able to maintain upper 90’s he will be infinitely more valuable as a starter.

    • danrizzle - Jul 16, 2012 at 6:40 AM

      Not to be a buzzkill here, but the guy abandoned his newborn daughter in Cuba. Fun to watch and everything, but I won’t root for him.

      • milltec - Jul 16, 2012 at 9:17 AM

        Yeah sucks that you make an assumption that he completely abandoned her and probably doesn’t pay any portion of his large salary into giving her a better living than she could have had when he was still there. You don’t know the details (and neither do I) so don’t blatantly assume anything.

  9. qacm - Jul 16, 2012 at 3:16 AM

    Craig Kimbrel’s 2012 season also should be on your llst, Matthew. He’s currently averaging 15.94 K/9.

  10. bgeary8 - Jul 16, 2012 at 7:56 AM

    So Billy Wagner was pretty good.

    • thefalcon123 - Jul 16, 2012 at 9:41 AM

      Gotta love a player who retires after posting a 1.43 ERA, 37 saves and 104 Ks in 68 innings.

      Career compared to Rivera:
      Wagner: 2.31 ERA, .998 Whip, 0.8 HR/9, 3.0 BB/9, 11.9 K/9
      Rivera: 2.21 ERA, .998 Whip, 0.5 HR/9, 2.0 BB/9, 8.3 K/9

      Granted, Rivera did it in 300 more innings. So I guess Wagner will have to settle with just being known as the best *left-handed* reliever of all time.

    • sneschalmers - Jul 16, 2012 at 1:40 PM

      The craziest thing about Billy Wagner is that he was born right handed. After he broke his right arm a couple of times when he was young, he taught himself to throw left handed and voila. Throws 100.

  11. whodeytn - Jul 16, 2012 at 8:23 AM

    Not to be a buzzkill here, but the guy abandoned his newborn daughter in Cuba. Fun to watch and everything, but I won’t root for him.
    ——-

    Good lord.

  12. thefalcon123 - Jul 16, 2012 at 9:48 AM

    Fun with paces.

    Granted, no way on earth would Chapman come close to maintaining that strikeout rate as a starter, but for fun, let’s pretend he could.

    -That would be 373 stikeouts in 200 innings.

    -If he pitched the 249.2 innings that Johnson did when he K’d 372, Chapman would have 466 K’s.

    -If he were transported back to the 1970s and tossed 326 innings like Ryan in his record-setting strikeout season, Chapman would have 609 strikeouts.

    -If a wacky comedy ensued that caused Chapman to change places with Old Hoss Radbourn on the 1884 Province Grays and assume his innings workload of 678.2…Chapman would amass 1,267 strikeouts while he and battery-mate Barney Gilligan learn a valuable lesson about how our differences make us special.

    • ruehlmann - Jul 16, 2012 at 11:06 AM

      This is a fantastic post, well done.

  13. txraiderfan - Jul 16, 2012 at 4:14 PM

    Sure, Dusty will have no problem pitching him six or seven days in a row. After all, Dusty threw every day when he was an outfielder

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