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Aroldis Chapman will be on innings limit in Reds’ rotation

Nov 28, 2012, 10:13 PM EDT

aroldis chapman getty Getty Images

Aroldis Chapman is going to enter spring training next February as a starter. Should he also emerge as one, there will have to be a limit on the amount of innings that he throws in 2013 because he topped out at 71 2/3 frames as the Reds’ closer in 2012.

But that innings limit won’t be all that strict.

Reds pitching coach Bryan Price told John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer on Wednesday afternoon that he will “see where [Chapman] is in terms of innings and pitches after 25 or 30 starts.” Which is basically a full season for most healthy starting pitchers in the major leagues.

“We’ll know a lot more by the time we get to spring training,” Price added. “I don’t think there’s an absolute. You have to have a plan and hope it works. Any time you have a young pitcher and he’s going to surpass his inning total, there’s going to be questions if he gets hurt. We can’t be scared of that.”

Chapman has a dominant 2.33 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 14.1 K/9 in 135 career major-league innings.

The 25-year-old left-hander is under contract with the Reds through the conclusion of the 2015 season.

  1. boyofzimmer - Nov 28, 2012 at 10:59 PM

    Terrible idea… Playoff team with dominant closer or question marks as starter (knowing full well you won’t get the same value as having a shutdown stopper) = once promising team falling on their faces with only themselves to blame. Congrats!

    • joshcarey - Nov 29, 2012 at 4:23 AM

      It’s true you won’t get the same value as you’d get with him as a closer. Instead you’ll get three times the value. If being a closer was better for the team than being a starter, then every team’s top pitching prospect would be groomed to be a closer. That’s obviously not the case. Nor is it the case that a team shouldn’t keep trying to improve their roster because what they did last year worked last year. History is littered with teams who kept the status quo only to fall into oblivion.

      • stlouis1baseball - Nov 30, 2012 at 11:36 AM

        Josh: I hear what you are saying. I truly do.
        For me…
        The question really boils down to effectiveness. Is Aroldis’ innings as a starter going to be as effective as his innings as a closer.
        You (and everyone else)…knows when he comes in at the top of the 8th it is essentially lights out for the opposing team. Will this correlate to innings (1 – 5 or 6)?
        As I stated in the previous article…time will tell.

    • jl9830 - Nov 29, 2012 at 7:36 AM

      I’d much rather have 175 innings of Chapman than 50.

  2. coachbeck - Nov 28, 2012 at 11:02 PM

    Won’t be hard to go back to pen. If it works hen they could have an ace

    • Old Gator - Nov 28, 2012 at 11:35 PM

      …or they could trade him to the Gnats for Stephen Strasburg, nyuknyuknyuknyuk….

    • crisisjunky - Nov 29, 2012 at 12:03 AM

      They already have two Aces. Now they have no closer.
      Broxton will be the innings-limit candidate on the Reds staff,and right back to SQ.1
      don’t fix what ain’t.

      Now.. about that Leake.

      • jl9830 - Nov 29, 2012 at 7:37 AM

        Closers are the least important player on the roster. 3 aces and Broxton >>>>>>>>>> 2 aces and Chapman as closer.

  3. jeteribarelyknowher - Nov 29, 2012 at 12:05 AM

    200 innings > 70 innings. Why is this so hard to understand?

    • ugglasforearms - Nov 29, 2012 at 4:59 AM

      70 appearances vs. 30+

      • jl9830 - Nov 29, 2012 at 7:38 AM

        Each of those 70 appearances comes while the Reds already have a 1-3 run lead with one inning to go. That’s like a 90% win rate regardless of who is closing. That extra 10% per game is not NEARLY as impactful as starting 30+ games, in which you impact each game so much more.

      • paperlions - Nov 29, 2012 at 7:57 AM

        That’s like saying a pinch hitter with 110 PAs/year has as much impact as a guy that catches 110 games.

        All appearance are not created equal.

  4. jase44 - Nov 29, 2012 at 8:15 AM

    Bottom line is the kid has serious talent, give him a crack at the rotation and if he doesn’t hack it then send him back to the pen. Arms like this don’t come around often so I think it would be foolish not to give him a spot. Think previous mangers of players like Pedro, Smoltz, Wainwright and Sale were happy to take a chance on the transition? I think so

    • temporarilyexiled - Nov 29, 2012 at 8:48 AM

      Just call me risk-averse. I’d be scared of blowing out Chapman’s arm. Add Joba and Feliz to your list.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Nov 29, 2012 at 9:46 AM

        What about Strasburg? Or Beachy? Or Nathan? Or Brian Wilson? Or Xavier Nady? Or any of the other hundreds of guys who stayed in one role and blew out their arm. Sometimes arms blow out. From what I can gather, we have narrowed the most likely cause of ligament damage to throwing a baseball, but don’t have much more in terms of specifics.

        If anything it seems as though injuries are more common to highly used relievers than judiciously used starters. Ask Joe Torre, it’s a fact.

      • temporarilyexiled - Nov 29, 2012 at 10:46 AM

        I’ve never had that impression of injuries in starters versus relievers, but it probably makes sense to gather actual data. As for “judiciously used starters”, that opens up a whole other can of worms. There’s the argument that if starters are groomed properly as they come up, and made to get their pitch and inning counts to a high level before getting to the majors, they’re actually ready to “old-school” it, and pitch late into games and not get injured as much. To continue, the closer tends to be that guy who’s more of a thrower and/or has one special out pitch. A starter ultimately needs to be more of a pitcher. Which one of those does Aroldis Chapman look like to you?

  5. jase44 - Nov 29, 2012 at 9:43 AM

    Not saying it always work but at times pays huge dividends. You’re right it is a risk/reward situation and for the remaining 20 mil or whatever it is for his contract through 2015 I would rather take the chance then have him throw 70 innings/yr.

  6. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Nov 29, 2012 at 9:51 AM

    It is a good thing some of the commenters on Chapman are not execs on MLB teams. From what I gather on here, there shouldn’t be any high end starting pitchers. Good pitchers should only be in the bullpen. Does anyone think Verlander should be the Tiger’s closer? Kershaw could close for the Dodgers. Halladay, Hamels and Lee would form a formidable finale for the Philly bullpen. Why aren’t these guys doing that?

    (thus, my handle)

    • stlouis1baseball - Dec 4, 2012 at 10:49 AM

      CC: All the pitchers you listed have more than one or two pitches.
      That (in my opinion)…is why Aroldis is far better served closing out games.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Dec 4, 2012 at 12:02 PM

        More pitches are a matter necessity. Chapman hasn’t NEEDED more than 2 pitches. He probably hasn’t needed more than one really.

        Perhaps Chapman is best suited to the ‘pen. I certainly don’t know. But the only way to really find that out is to give him a shot at both roles. If he can cut it as a starter, as he did in Cuba and what he was signed to do in the MLB, he will be much more valuable.

    • stlouis1baseball - Dec 4, 2012 at 12:15 PM

      I agree. If he can start he would be more valuable. I just don’t know that he can do so. I also don’t think starting in Cuba is a good borameter for one being suited for an MLB rotation. There is a whole lot of fat, sluggish Softball types that play Cuban baseball. Of course…the only way to find out if he can start…is to let him do so.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Dec 4, 2012 at 12:39 PM

        Starting in Cuba does give some indication as to his ability to throw 5-8 innings at a time every 5 days or so, as opposed to a reliever usage schedule. But really, if his fastball drops 3 or 4 mph that still puts him in territory with the hardest throwing pitchers in baseball. The guy has a little room for error here.

  7. GIBoxer5 - Nov 29, 2012 at 10:38 AM

    Amusing how 99% of those who disagree with the move seem to be completely ignorant to the fact that this guy was a starter his entire pro career before defecting Cuba for MLB. Also to the fact that the Reds kept him as a starter initially, only to put him in the pen to gain controlled MLB experience. Also that many initially thought, and still think, the move to the pen was /is ruining his fastball and has caused him to abandon his changeup. Btw, he was a starter last year in sprint training, best on the team. Only got moved back to pen due to multiple major bullpen injuries along with a deep starting staff.those who watch him every day know EXACTLY why this move is being made. It’s a much bigger discussion outside of Cincy to those who haven’t watched the painful transition he’s had into a reliever role. It takes him a solid inning or more to get totally loose and get the fastball humming..

  8. contraryguy - Nov 29, 2012 at 11:29 AM

    Would love to hear thru HBT or other outlet what Danny Graves has to say about this, as he’s the last ‘great experiment’ pitcher for the Reds. Look up his 2003 record if you want to know how this will end.

    • Marty McKee - Nov 29, 2012 at 12:52 PM

      The idea that Danny Graves = Aroldis Chapman is ludicrous.

  9. yahmule - Nov 29, 2012 at 9:52 PM

    I just can’t wait to see the young man pitch again. Spring training is too far away.

  10. jase44 - Nov 29, 2012 at 11:47 PM

    Hahaha Danny Graves has no business being mentioned in this post

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