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Aroldis Chapman tosses two perfect innings in spring debut

Feb 28, 2013, 9:31 PM EDT

Aroldis Chapman AP

Aroldis Chapman‘s move to the starting rotation is one of the more interesting situations to follow this spring. The transition got off on the right foot this afternoon against the Rockies, as he tossed two perfect innings in his Cactus League debut.

Chapman struck out one and threw 19 out of 23 pitches for strikes. Per John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer, the southpaw topped out at 94 mph on his fastball and had three pitches register below 80 mph as he incorporated some of his secondary stuff. While Chapman has relied primarily on his fastball and slider as a reliever, today he mixed in some splitters and even threw a changeup.

Chapman was dominant in the closer role last season, posting a 1.51 ERA, 38 saves and a 122/23 K/BB ratio over 71 2/3 innings. However, there’s a chance that he could be even more valuable as a member of the rotation. The Reds plan to limit his innings if he sticks this year as a starter, though they aren’t saying what number they have in mind.

  1. dondada10 - Feb 28, 2013 at 9:36 PM

    I hope Dusty Baker has learned his lesson and doesn’t have Chapman throw until his shoulder falls off.

    • thomas844 - Mar 1, 2013 at 10:01 AM

      Because he handled his starters so poorly in 2012. Oh wait that’s right, they were the only team in the MLB that didn’t have one of their pitchers miss a start!

  2. jm91rs - Feb 28, 2013 at 10:10 PM

    It’s the spring so I’m not gonna worry too much, but topping out at 94 is very average. When you make your money throwing heat I hope he can dial it up a little when the season starts

    • savvybynature - Feb 28, 2013 at 10:31 PM

      Throwing two perfect innings is not, however, very average.

      If he is effective I don’t care if he never tops 80 on the gun. He needs to learn to save his heat for when he needs it anyway, so he can save his arm along the way.

    • tracyhudsonateyourbaby - Mar 3, 2013 at 12:12 PM

      If you can top out at 94 while still getting your off speed pitches below 80, you’re actually doing pretty damn good. The average pitcher has a differential of around 6-8 mph between their fastballs and off speed stuff. A 14 or higher mph differential is pretty damn near unhittable

  3. johnnyb1976 - Feb 28, 2013 at 10:55 PM

    If he’s avg 94 on his fastball and throwing splitters, sliders & a change up at 70 mph he’s going to have hitters spinning or really really late when they do see the fastball again.

    • jm91rs - Mar 1, 2013 at 7:19 AM

      If he has all of those pitches now, then great. But last year he had two pitches, fast and faster. And that worked pretty damn well for him. If he’s become a new pitcher with a bunch of stuff to mix in, then yeah he doesn’t need to throw better than 94, but when heat is what made you have one of the most dominant pitching seasons in history, hopefully you’re able to throw it every once in awhile. No one expects him to hit 100 10+ times in a long outing, but if he can’t dial it up there once in awhile he’s putting away the pitch that made him great. We’ll see as spring wears on I guess.

      • paperlions - Mar 1, 2013 at 7:54 AM

        When you never turn over a lineup, or pitch more than an inning at a time, you don’t need other pitches and should use only your best offerings. Just because Chapman only threw FB/SL last year doesn’t mean he didn’t have other pitches, just that he didn’t use them. There is no way he’d survive as a starter if he just threw FB/SL….no matter the heat, MLB hitters will catch up to it if they see it enough. When trying to turnover a lineup multiple times, you have to show hitters different things, or the 2nd or 3rd time through the line up, you’ll get lit up.

        This is the primary difference between a back end starter and an ace. An ace has enough ways to get a hitter out that he can go through the lineup 3-4 times effectively, a lesser starter gets into trouble earlier, often the 3rd time through, which is why so many of those types of pitchers only make it through 5-6 innings.

        Also, it was still February yesterday, no pitcher is throwing at 100% in February. Reds fans have no reason to worry, and every reason to be optimistic….for Chapman to show 4 pitches and throw 19 of 23 for strikes is fantastic.

  4. brewcrewfan54 - Mar 1, 2013 at 12:20 AM

    Great potential but after reading an article about how he doesn’t del well with adversity on the mound and gets a little lost the longer he’s out there this doesn’t prove me much. As a pitcher in a game I enjoy I hope he proves me wrong, as a division rival I have to hope he sucks.

  5. bengalsucker - Mar 1, 2013 at 7:35 AM

    too bad Aroldis had a nasty slider last year that crippled hitters. so yoir comment about his two pitches of “fast and faster” is false. and it was his first start in the spring. im willing to bet if Brian Price saw a pitch hit 98 right away hes gonna have a talk with Aroldis. he has to keep it dialed back for now.

    • jm91rs - Mar 1, 2013 at 9:28 AM

      Half of the Reds team is on record as saying he should not be a starter because he has just ONE consistent pitch (I’ve heard arroyo, cozart, ludwick, phillips all mention this). Yes he throws a wicked slider, but not consistently. You can’t throw 9 fastballs and one slider for a ball and call that a 2nd pitch.

      My only point in commenting is “great, he is working on other pitches, I hope once he warms up and gets into the year he’s able to dial up the speed a little on his fastball since that’s what really set him apart from most pitchers. I hope he learns the balance of speed and longevity” Nothing more, nothing less, don’t act like you need to talk me back off the ledge or anything, I’m all for him starting.

    • contraryguy - Mar 1, 2013 at 2:11 PM

      He threw fastballs nearly 90% of the time (and threw his second pitch, whatever you want to call it, less than in past years). I’m among the Reds fans who say “get to 5 innings, every time out” and see what he’s doing by that 90th pitch. The Reds need a lefty starter, but this is a pretty large gamble.

      http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=10233&position=P

  6. Liam - Mar 1, 2013 at 10:32 AM

    With that kid of success, I wonder if anyone has ever considered using Chapman in a role where he only throws two or fewer innings at a time.

  7. stlouis1baseball - Mar 1, 2013 at 12:57 PM

    If he can command that fastball in the mid 90’s and develop his other pitches…look out.
    To clarify…pitches (other) than his slider. If you throw mid 90’s heat then back it up with the occasional offspeed pitch BELOW 80…wow. Serious weapon. And the closer role is a wonderful backup option should he not be able to consistently locate his other pitches. Futures bright. No question.

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