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Aroldis Chapman is going to be a starter for the Reds

Nov 28, 2012, 10:47 AM EDT

Aroldis Chapman AP

Nothing is official yet, but every indication is that the Reds will move Aroldis Chapman into the rotation after signing Jonathan Broxton to a three-year, $21 million deal to replace him as closer.

John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes as if it might as well be official, saying “this means Chapman’s going to start” and speculating that the 24-year-old left-hander will be allowed to throw around 180 innings after totaling 72 in 2012.

That’s a big jump, but it’s important to note that Chapman was initially viewed as a starter in the minors before shifting to the bullpen in preparation for his call-up in 2010. That year–which was his first in the United States after defecting from Cuba–he threw a total of 109 innings between Triple-A and the majors.

This year was a mixed bag for young pitchers moving from the bullpen to the rotation, as Chris Sale thrived, Daniel Bard struggled, and Neftali Feliz got injured, but seeing what Chapman can do in a 180-inning role before locking him into a 70-inning role for the rest of his career makes an awful lot of sense.

  1. pistolpete31 - Nov 28, 2012 at 10:50 AM

    Big mistake

    • gilbert718 - Nov 28, 2012 at 11:03 AM

      We will see. I can easily see it going both ways.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Nov 28, 2012 at 11:33 AM

      Not trying it would be a big mistake.

  2. losangelesfan - Nov 28, 2012 at 11:00 AM

    He’s not durable enough.

    • Cris E - Nov 28, 2012 at 11:54 AM

      Maybe. But the only way to know is send him out there, and the upside is potentially huge. Even if he misses time he’ll most likely come back as roughly the same guy he was. He’s been benched for fatigue or inflammation before and been able to bounce back. The Reds are essentially betting monster #1 starter potential vs some DL time, possibly a lot of it. If Chapman is game it’s kind of a no-brainer.

  3. joshfrancis50 - Nov 28, 2012 at 11:01 AM

    Can any of those out there that feel Chapman should stay in the pen explain to me your rationale that having a great pitcher throw fewer innings is a good thing?

  4. icanspeel - Nov 28, 2012 at 11:06 AM

    Umm didn’t they rest him last year due to fatigue? We should start a pool to see how long it takes for him to get shutdown as a starter.

  5. qcubed3 - Nov 28, 2012 at 11:09 AM

    You HAVE to throw him into the rotation. The Reds are primed for a run at the World Series, and if Chapman can pitch to his capabilities, the Reds would be a very, very tough out. Is the move risky? Somewhat, but the upside with starting him is just too good to not take that chance.

    • redlegs7 - Nov 28, 2012 at 12:05 PM

      They are primed for a run. But, he won’t be pitching in post season with the innings limit, like Strasburg. Unless they rest him during the season to prep for October.

  6. temporarilyexiled - Nov 28, 2012 at 11:17 AM

    Chapman has to push Cueto and Latos out of the #1 and #2 slots, AND Broxton has to be really good.

    Otherwise, it wasn’t worth the risk, even if no one gets injured.

    This move either:

    Makes the Reds a strong WS contender,

    Or downgrades getting to the postseason to questionable, from likely.

    Maybe I’m wrong, but I remember a lot more success stories with starters moving to the bullpen than the other way around, even if that player originally came up as a starter.

    • joshfrancis50 - Nov 28, 2012 at 11:25 AM

      This doesn’t even make sense. He has to be better than Cueto and/or Latos for this to work out? The two are mutually exclusive events; neither has anything to do with the other.

      More innings of better run prevention. That’s what it boils down to.

      • temporarilyexiled - Nov 29, 2012 at 7:44 AM

        If Chapman isn’t good enough to become the #1 in the Reds rotation, you can’t really suggest that it’s worth the risk to put him in the starting rotation. He’s shown he’s great…in very short bursts. There’s nothing to suggest that he’ll stay healthy for the amount of innings he needs to pitch in order to really make a difference. Doesn’t having him on an innings limit douse that fire of an idea that he’ll do more for you as a starter? And isn’t it assuming an awful lot to think that Broxton will be who he needs to be for three years? This is just the kind of stuff that tells me that once again, Dusty Baker is having some influence on these decisions. And he’s the nicest of guys, but he seems to have a knack for snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory when it really counts.

      • joshfrancis50 - Nov 29, 2012 at 9:44 AM

        I still don’t understand what being a #1 has anything to do with whether its worth the move. What he needs to be is better than the starter he’s replacing (Leake) which shouldn’t be a problem.

        And what risk? That he hurts himself? He could hurt himself on the treadmill tomorrow or just as easily throw 200 innings. We don’t know. We suspect he’ll be limited in his innings, but do you think the Nats would have been better having Stras only pitch 70 innings in the 9th inning or later for fear of injury?

        The only other risk is ineffectiveness as a starter, but that’s a worthwhile gamble because, you know, he could go back to the closer role.

        The fact is he can pitch more innings as a starter, thus maximizing his value to the team. There are only about 1400 innings in a season; why not have your best pitchers pitch more of them?

  7. crookedstick - Nov 28, 2012 at 11:22 AM

    This was the plan this year too until Madsen blew out his elbow in Spring Training. Same thing could happen to Broxton and Chapman’s back to closer.

    • crisisjunky - Nov 28, 2012 at 6:02 PM

      the only thing Broxton will be blowing out are chunks

      • crisisjunky - Nov 28, 2012 at 6:03 PM

        88mph ones.

  8. timstl - Nov 28, 2012 at 11:26 AM

    Aroldis Chapman is going to be a starter for the Reds… until he isn’t.

    This is a fun annual game.

  9. riverace19 - Nov 28, 2012 at 11:32 AM

    Hmm… He had one of the most dominant strikeout performances as a reliever ever.. Yah makes sense to change everything. Sounds like a Dusty Baker idea

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Nov 28, 2012 at 11:42 AM

      The stat you are referring to is k/9. It is nice to have the k’s, but it’s even better to have more 9s

    • crisisjunky - Nov 28, 2012 at 6:07 PM

      yeah, no, the Dusty Baker thing was PUTTING him in the pen to begin with!

  10. junglerat524 - Nov 28, 2012 at 11:57 AM

    About time. They signed him 4 years ago to be a starter because that what he was in Cuba. He stepped into an unfamiliar role as a set up man & then closer but he is much more comfortable being a starter. Fatigue shouldn’t be an issue pitching every 5/6 days over 3 straight days. We won’t see the 105 mph anymore but he should be a good starter. Like he was before.

  11. tomnickle - Nov 28, 2012 at 12:14 PM

    Somebody posted a stat at the end of this summer which I found interesting. Feel free to attack it if you want because I can’t remember the source but it stated that going from an elite closer to an average closer produced an average WAR of +12. So the move isn’t insignificant.

    Having said that, I think I’d rather have Chapman in my rotation than Mike Leake. I’m pretty sure the WAR on that comparison would show a very noticeable number.

    The Reds have bullpen depth with Sean Marshall, Jonathan Broxton, JJ Hoover, Logan Ondrusek and Jose Arredondo.

    Either way you slice it, one of the best rotations in baseball gets better by adding Aroldis Chapman.

  12. tomnickle - Nov 28, 2012 at 12:19 PM

    Something else I haven’t seen mentioned. Just because he can throw 103mph doesn’t mean he will or has to.

    I’m sure he can work on consistently throwing his fastball around 96-97mph, not unlike many successful and durable starters in MLB.

    Less velocity could also lead to a heavier ball, bad news for NL hitters if that’s the approach taken. He may not strikeout two batters per inning but his Whip could maintain the pace he set this year…..scary.

  13. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Nov 28, 2012 at 12:19 PM

    Didn’t the Giants just win the WS with a revolving door at closer all season and the third-string guy doing the job in the playoffs? All because their starting pitchers were pretty awesome? Even if Chapman’s velocity drops all the way to 101mph as a starter, he should still be an effective pitcher.

  14. mrredlegz - Nov 28, 2012 at 12:22 PM

    Amen to the last 2 comments. Chapman’s fatigue episodes came shortly after pitching for 3 or 4 consecutive days. He was the best starter Cincy had coming out of spring training last year, and as previously mentioned, he started in Cuba and prefers to be a starter in the bigs. I trust Bryan Price will keep a pretty close eye on Chap’s arm and mechanics.

    What I look forward to more than a 2013 rotation of Cueto, Latos, Chapman, Bailey, and Arroyo is a 2014 rotation of Cueto, Latos, Chapman, Bailey, and Leake. He may have struggled at times last year, but Mike Leake is gonna’ be a pretty damn good 4-5 guy eventually.

    • mrredlegz - Nov 28, 2012 at 12:23 PM

      Of course, 2 more people chime in before I can hit reply. Amen to the last 4, anyway.

  15. fraleyr - Nov 28, 2012 at 3:46 PM

    dont do it! are you kidding me? he is cheap compared to a solid closer. a batter faces 80-94 mph pitches throughout the game and then in comes chapman throwing 98-105 mph in the 9th, he blows them away everytime. he screws every batter he faces timing up. we make him a starter and he wont throw as hard to last longe, and we already know he’ll get worn down fairly quick anyway. the guy only has 2 pithces! a slider and a fastball. he cant switch that up enough to remain effective threw an entire game. this guy was among the best closers in the game and the reds had on of the best starting pitching staffs in baseball so why are we fixing what aint brike? get a leadoff guy and win us a world series! GO REDS!!!!!!!

  16. stlouis1baseball - Nov 28, 2012 at 5:09 PM

    Wonderful call! Personally, I dreaded seeing him come into the game.
    If you weren’t leading in the 7th…you weren’t winning the game.
    Him being a starter removes this from the equation.
    Sure…he will pitch far more innings as a starter.
    But will those innings be as effective as a they were with him bringing the heat for two innings at the end of a game? Time will tell.

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