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Reds still haven’t decided whether Aroldis Chapman will start or close

Mar 13, 2013, 4:16 PM EDT

aroldis chapman getty Getty Images

Aroldis Chapman is preparing as if he’ll move into the starting rotation this season following two-plus years in the bullpen, but the Reds still haven’t made a final decision on his role.

“I’d like to decide soon and get my team together,” manager Dusty Baker said, via John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I don’t like having guys in the middle. That’s a bad situation when you’re in the middle of anything. An unknown. Then everybody else is in an unknown situation.”

Baker noted that Chapman went through something similar last spring before eventually moving into the closer role and saving 38 games with a 1.51 ERA.

As for who, exactly, will be making the final decision on Chapman? Baker says “the decision is not only mine, it’s ours … but I got my opinion.” And if the manager gets his way Chapman will remain the Reds’ closer.

  1. joshfrancis50 - Mar 13, 2013 at 4:19 PM

    I think the Reds HAVE decided and it’s Dusty who’s dug his heels into the ground with the hopes of getting his wish.

    • thekcubrats - Mar 13, 2013 at 4:32 PM

      Dusty wants a shot at ringing up a TJ on a closer for once.

      • chomsky66 - Mar 13, 2013 at 4:34 PM

        He does have his legacy to consider.

      • jwbiii - Mar 13, 2013 at 9:29 PM

        Ryan Madson.

    • jwbiii - Mar 13, 2013 at 6:04 PM

      Jocketty certainly decided when he signed Broxton to a 3/$21M deal.

    • 78mu - Mar 13, 2013 at 9:34 PM

      Joe Pos just wrote a long post about closers – maybe Dusty should read it.

  2. Marty McKee - Mar 13, 2013 at 4:36 PM

    Sometimes I think Dusty would rather be proven right than win ballgames. Think about all those times he wrote Patterson, Taveras, Valdez, Cairo, etc. into the top of the order, even though only a complete fool could believe it was a good idea. But, come hell or high water, if it took 400 at-bats to prove Willy Taveras was a competent leadoff man, Baker was gonna give him those at-bats, no matter how terrible he was.

    You would have to be a tremendous idiot to believe Chapman is better served pitching ten *important* innings per year than pitching 150 to 200.

    • yahmule - Mar 13, 2013 at 10:25 PM

      I don’t know who thumbed this down because it’s the truest thing ever posted on here.

    • Kevin Gillman - Mar 13, 2013 at 10:51 PM

      Marty, how is Nefali Feliz doing now? There is ALWAYS a risk of switching a guy that pitched 70 innings, and relying on him to pitch 150-180 IPs the very next season. Plus, Chapman only has 2 pitches, you have to have 3 to be an effective starter.

      • paperlions - Mar 14, 2013 at 7:55 AM

        Chapman has > 2 pitches, he only uses 2 when he closes.

        Feliz only pitched 42 innings last year. You are assuming the problem was only going to manifest if he started. Closers throw much closer to maximum effort, increasing the stress on the elbow. Feliz was a starter throughout his time in the minors, he was moved to the pen out of need (which was greater in the MLB pen than MLB rotation), not for health reasons.

        What you have here is confirmation bias, ignoring all of the times guys move from the pen to the rotation without injury, and all of the guys that get injured while remaining in the pen.

      • Kevin Gillman - Mar 14, 2013 at 12:34 PM

        Why do you think I have bias? I like the Reds, I just think they are a better team with Chapman as their closer, and silly me for thinking that, because they won 96 games last season, with CHAPMAN closing. But there is history there of a reliever, turned starter who either gets worn out, or gets hurt. We also know Chapman will not be throwing max effort when he starts, so how good can he be?

      • Marty McKee - Mar 14, 2013 at 9:37 AM

        There is ALWAYS a risk of getting hit by a car when driving in traffic. What does that mean? Fact is, Chapman has been a starter his entire career except last year. He was a starter in spring training last year. He has experience as a starter, he knows how to do it, he wants to do it.

        Chapman has at least three pitches. He has the potential to be the most overwhelming pitcher *in the history of baseball*, and you think he should be relegated to a spot that should belong to the sixth or seventh best pitcher on the staff?

      • Kevin Gillman - Mar 14, 2013 at 12:36 PM

        Okay, he has “experience” as a starter, but not one Major league start. Are you going to tell me that he can throw 6 innings right away? Are you going to tell me the Minor Leagues, or Cuba league is the same as the Major Leagues?

      • Kevin Gillman - Mar 14, 2013 at 12:41 PM

        One more thing too, we know if Champan is the starter, he will be on an innings limit of say between 150-180 IPs. Let’s hope the Reds stretch out his starts so he can pitch in October, unlike the “Braintrusts” in Washington did with Strasberg.

      • Marty McKee - Mar 14, 2013 at 3:23 PM

        Yes, Chapman can easily pitch 6 innings right away.

      • Kevin Gillman - Mar 14, 2013 at 3:52 PM

        I just don’t neccessarily agree with the move right now. If it’s not broke, then why fix it?

      • Marty McKee - Mar 14, 2013 at 4:08 PM

        It is broken. The Reds were using a young, highly paid, intimidating, talented, dominating pitcher to do a job that literally any decent major league pitcher can do. Your closer should be the seventh-best pitcher on your staff…maybe the sixth.

        Your five best pitchers should be starting. This is common sense, giving your best pitchers the highest amount of innings. Your sixth-best is the guy you use in clutch situations, no matter what inning it is. If the bases are loaded, no outs, I don’t care if it’s the sixth inning, this is the reliever you use. Your seventh-best is the one you use in the ninth inning when you’re leading…unless, of course, bases loaded, no outs, yada yada.

        Again, this is just common sense gathered through the use of basic mathematics. Unfortunately, Dusty “Clogging Up the Bases” Baker isn’t blessed with a lot of common sense. Walt Jocketty seems to be, however, and I think Bryan Price may be too.

      • Kevin Gillman - Mar 14, 2013 at 10:59 PM

        Can Chapman go 7? How can he get out of a shaky inning, and minimize the damage? Better yet, what happens if his bullpen blows the game for him, how does he react next time, and what will he do when he has to hit? These are questions Chapman must answer if he is going to indeed start. I disagree that “any” reliever can close, because if that is the case, then anyone can go out and get that last 27th out. Your Reds already proved Sean Marshall can’t neccessarily get the job done in that spot, so what happens if the bullpen blows the game? The Reds also had 5 durable starters, because every single one of them had 31 or more starts. Can Chapman even do that? All questions he will have to answer this season.

    • captainwisdom8888 - Mar 14, 2013 at 3:57 AM

      my fantasy draft is comin up soon i wanna know wtf is up toooo brahhhh

  3. danglesnipecelly24 - Mar 13, 2013 at 5:28 PM

    Why would they? You know opening day is only 20 days away or so. Dumb

  4. boyofzimmer - Mar 13, 2013 at 6:49 PM

    Best option for Reds is to keep him as closer… Starting will ruin him, but as a Cubs fan I say go ahead and start him.

  5. watchfullhose - Mar 13, 2013 at 7:38 PM

    I’m with Dusty on this one. The kid should close.

  6. onbucky96 - Mar 13, 2013 at 7:56 PM

    Whichever way Dusty feels will ruin his arm faster.

  7. anthonyverna - Mar 14, 2013 at 6:45 AM

    If he closes, Dusty won’t have him to clog up the bases.

  8. cggarb - Mar 14, 2013 at 11:46 AM

    Paul Daugherty (surprisingly) has a great commentary on this today. Money line: “Baker wants Chapman to close because it makes his job easier. With all due respect, this isnt about making Dusty’s job easier. I can give you three million reasons why. If you want to win it all — and they do — the only place for Aroldis Chapman is in the starting rotation.”

    My own quick/crude review of game logs shows that after becoming closer on May 22, Chapman entered the game 50 times – only 23 with the game on the line (in a tie, or where allowing a HR would lose the lead).

    That’s a horrible misuse of a great arm. Unless you have solid reason to believe that Chapman cannot start — unlikely, since he was signed and developed as a starter — this is a no-brainer.

  9. cggarb - Mar 14, 2013 at 12:50 PM

    Chapman’s save percentage last year was lower than Francisco Cordero’s was in 2011. Chapman was obviously a better pitcher — the point is that “closing” games is not all that hard, and Chapman’s excellence was wasted in an easy job.

    It’s like having Michaelangelo drawing caricatures. Yeah, he does a nice job. But there are 80 other guys who can do it. Let Chapman paint ceilings.

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