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Reds won’t disclose how they’ll handle Aroldis Chapman’s workload as a starter

Feb 16, 2013, 7:45 PM EDT

Aroldis Chapman AP

The Reds are stretching out left-hander Aroldis Chapman this spring in preparation for moving him to the starting rotation. However, while the club plans to handle his workload responsibly, they aren’t willing to say much more.

According to Mark Sheldon of MLB.com, Reds pitching coach Bryan Price said today that the team doesn’t plan to disclose their plan for how many innings Chapman will throw as a starter.

“There is a pretty good understanding of what will be necessary to keep his innings at an area that we’re comfortable with, should he be a starter throughout the course of the season,” Prices said on Saturday. “That being said, I think if I’ve learned anything, I’ve learned it’s better to keep that stuff to ourselves. You just set the table for a little too much speculation and Q&A that I would not be comfortable going through.”

This is a different situation than what we saw with Stephen Strasburg last season, as Chapman is making the transition from the bullpen as opposed to pitching his first full season back from Tommy John surgery, but it’s easy to see how a firm number could become a distraction for a team which is expected to contend. No need to go there, especially since a lot of things can happen in spring training. Remember, Chapman was originally expected to begin last season in the starting rotation before Ryan Madson hurt his elbow and required Tommy John surgery.

Chapman posted a dominant 1.51 ERA, 38 saves and a 122/23 K/BB ratio over 71 2/3 innings last season. Jonathan Broxton is expected to take his place in the closer role this season.

  1. brewcrewfan54 - Feb 16, 2013 at 8:29 PM

    From the article I read on Deadspin yesterday they may also need to figure out how to teach him to keep his head when he faces some adversity on the mound. Maybe it was just because he was young but that article made it sound like he may not have the mental makeup to be a starter.

  2. js20011041 - Feb 16, 2013 at 8:35 PM

    I have always advocated for the Reds to put Chapman in the rotation, but doing so at this point really puts them in a bit of a bind. I wouldn’t think that they can stretch him much past 130 or 140 innings without significantly increasing his risk of injury. That’s not much of a contribution to a rotation for a team contending for the World Series. The 2nd issue is that it puts Broxton in the closer’s spot. He’s at best a middle reliever at this point. He struck out fewer than 7 batters per nine last year. That’s probably passable for a starter with excellent control. For a reliever, with the caveat that with relievers, the sample size is small enough that anything is possible, it’s just not going to get the job done.

  3. discountdblcheck - Feb 17, 2013 at 12:25 AM

    It’s Dusty Baker. I mean do you ever expect him to make a common sense decision?

    With Dusty, you know Chapman will be the closer….Guaranteed, Because with Chap in the pen it is so much easier for Dusty to manage that pen, which is Dusty’s biggest weakness.

    Chap will be the closer. No drama. Nothing to see here.

    With Dusty logic, Randy Johnson would be a Closer.

    • cur68 - Feb 17, 2013 at 2:32 AM

      Ah, another season, another Dusty Baker tirade. Well. Nothing but for it, then.

      Ahem

      DANG you Dusty Baker! Dang you to HECK!

      • stlouis1baseball - Feb 18, 2013 at 10:35 AM

        LOL! Thanks Cur. I have missed that. Missed it a lot.
        Do me a favor and try to work it in more consistantly this year.

    • redlegs7 - Feb 17, 2013 at 8:48 AM

      It’s not Baker who’s making the call. He’s actually against the move. Jocketty is the one who is making this happen.

  4. skeleteeth - Feb 17, 2013 at 7:39 AM

    Hopefully he can revert to the form he was in in ST last year; not trying to overpower all the time and refocusing quicker on his next pitch. It was clear watching him start last spring that he was in complete command of both self and the strike zone when he found this balance and he knew it.

    He was able to transform that into the closer role last year but it may be too much to ask for a second year in a row if Broxton doesn’t work out. Also, what does that say to the young pitcher of the organization’s confidence in him as a starter, however rational that may be?

  5. paperlions - Feb 17, 2013 at 9:56 AM

    He had always been a starter until the Reds moved him to the closer role out of need/desperation. Yes, he is a great closer….but every great starter could be a great closer….the ability to add MPH to the FB in the short role makes their breaking pitches that much more devastating….plus they don’t ever have to turn over the lineup.

    This is just more of the price the teams pay for moving young, raw starters to full time bull pen roles: it retards development of the secondary stuff, experience turning over lineups multiple times, and if they want to move them back to the rotation, it may take a couple of years to get them up to a full work load.

  6. mazblast - Feb 17, 2013 at 12:44 PM

    Keep Chapman’s contract situation in mind. He is signed through 2014, with a player option for 2015. This means that management may want to “get its money’s worth” in the next two years, with the expectation that they may not have him beyond then.

    As for what the Reds will do with him, I don’t see where (a) there’s any expectation that the organization will be honest, even if they know, or (b) that it’s the organization’s responsibility to tell anyone, even if they know. As in any sport, keeping the opposition guessing can’t hurt.

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