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Bryan Price becoming Reds manager could mean Aroldis Chapman moving into the rotation

Oct 22, 2013, 12:48 PM EDT

bryan price aroldis chapman reds AP

Cincinnati officially announced that Bryan Price will replace Dusty Baker as manager, which is interesting because he served as pitching coach under Baker for the past four seasons.

One issue where Baker and Price disagreed was how to utilize Aroldis Chapman. Price repeatedly indicated that he wanted to give Chapman an opportunity to start, preferring to use him in a 200-inning role instead of a 60-inning role, but Baker balked at that idea and stuck with the left-hander as a dominant closer.

Now that Price is in charge, might he give Chapman that chance in the rotation after all? It’s probably a tougher decision now than it was last year or even this spring, because Chapman is another season removed from starting regularly–he last did it as a minor leaguer in 2010–and has another season of excellent relief work under his belt, saving 38 games with a 2.54 ERA and nearly 16 strikeouts per nine innings.

But as Price moves into the big chair what do with Chapman is definitely one of his most important decisions.

  1. jonrox - Oct 22, 2013 at 12:58 PM

    Yes, please

  2. drewy44 - Oct 22, 2013 at 1:06 PM

    It would be a good move if they actually get another closer. I don’t think Broxton or Marshall would be lights out, especially in GASP. Even if they didn’t get a different closer, that’s still a starter to replace Arroyo, freeing up some cash there.

    • jonrox - Oct 22, 2013 at 2:15 PM

      Why obsess with the “Closer” spot? Chapman was league average on save conversion rate (around 88%) and all it did was make him pitch most of his innings in low leverage situations. Chapman either needs to be starting or be used to put out fires when other pitchers get in jams. It’s an absolute waste of his talent to have him pitch with comfortable lead with no one on, because just about any reliever can convert a high percentage of those situations.

      If the Reds need a good “Closer”, they can tap Lecure or Hoover. You’re like two years behind on Marshall being a closer, since he lost the job to Chapman at the beginning of 2012, and Broxton hasn’t been good since 2009.

      • paperlions - Oct 22, 2013 at 3:29 PM

        Stop making sense.

      • Marty McKee - Oct 22, 2013 at 4:16 PM

        I think Marshall can do the job. Dusty didn’t like him for some reason. Marshall blew one or two save opportunities early, then that was it–Dusty panicked and yanked him from closing. Honestly, any good reliever can do the job, and if Hoover, Marshall, or LeCure got the closer job, that would be fine with me.

        I love Chapman, but he’s also a very appealing trade chip, and I would be tempted to move him for a leadoff hitter and/or power-hitting outfielder.

      • yahmule - Oct 22, 2013 at 4:23 PM

        If any reliever can do it, why did Marshall lose his job and Broxton suddenly become unable?

        Can any reliever do it or not?

      • jonrox - Oct 22, 2013 at 4:44 PM


        Marshall “lost” the job in 2012 because Dusty Baker panicked after a month where Marshall blew a few saves. Marshall only was in the “closer” because Madson never got healthy. So after Marshall had a rough April, Dusty gave the “job” to Chapman. He went on to save games at a league average rate that year (88%).

        Broxton was originally slated to “close” in 2013 (which is why he got a contract as big as he is), but Dusty threw a hissy fit in Spring Training about Chapman starting, and Jocketty relented. So Chapman closed in 2013 and succeeded at a league average rate of 88%. However, I should also point out that I said Broxton hasn’t been good since 2009, so that reinforces the point that Broxton wasn’t “suddenly unable” to “close”

  3. metalhead65 - Oct 22, 2013 at 1:19 PM

    they will not be happy until they ruin his arm for good will they? whose spot does he take? Cingrani takes over for Arroyo. they tried him as a starter in the minors when they first got him and it was not pretty. he was a 5 inning guy max and had control problems. he is dominate when used right as the closer so why make him just another guy? Latos,Cueto, Bailey, leake. Cingrani is your rotation.

    • jm91rs - Oct 22, 2013 at 1:25 PM

      Ruin his arm for good? He has virtually no injury history. Do we just assume that because he throws hard he can’t hold up? It only takes one pitch from the wrong angle to ruin an arm, that can happen in the 9th or the 1st. Do you remember that he was the best starter two springs in a row? He’s more valuable in 60 innings than 200? I don’t buy that for a second. I’ll agree there is a problem with whose spot does he get, but that’s not a bad problem to had.

      • metalhead65 - Oct 22, 2013 at 6:59 PM

        do you follow the reds at all? the past 2 seasons he has been shut down for at least a week or more with arm “fatigue” whatever that is. don’t know about you but if he is having problems pitching only 3 days in a row max and 1 inning in those games it does not sound like a recipe for success trying to make him a starter where he would you know have to go longer than that 1 inning.

    • crookedstick - Oct 22, 2013 at 2:07 PM

      Make Chapman a starter, then trade Bailey for a 3B or LF with more pop.

    • imnotyourbuddyguy - Oct 22, 2013 at 2:41 PM

      One and a half pitch Tony “Bullpen” Cingrani is the answer? That along with you completely dismissing how effective Chapman’s was in spring training the season before last?

      • jm91rs - Oct 22, 2013 at 3:19 PM

        Yes, Tony Cingrani, the 24 year old left hander with a 2.92 era over 18 starts last year. He might only have 2 pitches but until the opposition figures out how to hit them I think it’s a non-issue.The kid is going to get even better, he has minimal experience. Whether or not Chapman is a starter, Cingrani is without a doubt going to start the season in the rotation.

        And if Chapman is as great as everyone wants to believe, let him pitch more than 60 innings. He was average in save conversions last year. He’s a far better than average pitcher, so why not let him pitch more?

        One fact should be enough to make up the minds of even the most stubborn people. The Reds played 5 games against the Giants in the post season last year (I’ll throw this year out as it was just a one game sample size), and the most dominant arm on the staff didn’t even take the mound.

      • metalhead65 - Oct 22, 2013 at 3:49 PM

        that 1 and half pitch was pretty effective for him wasn’t it? he is a starter and not a reliever trying to be a starter. he will add more pitches as he develops but right now the fastball is what works for him. Chapman my have other pitches but he gets guys out with his fastball.

  4. jm91rs - Oct 22, 2013 at 1:22 PM

    I don’t understand why they would make this change. Chapman has been so valuable for the Reds down the stretch. His outing in the Post Season against the Giants was something to behold…

    On a serious note, I’d welcome the change, but not sure what they would do with 6 starting pitchers. Cingrani is cheap and left handed so he’s not going anywhere. Leake had a career year and is young enough to build on that. Bailey isn’t going anywhere and neither is Latos. I guess they could move Cueto if they think he can’t stay healthy, but one season of injuries isn’t enough to dump a potential ace that isn’t as highly paid as a lot of aces around the league. The other thing is they’ve shown they don’t have a closer to replace him. At least last year they thought Broxton had regained his form and could close.

    • timburns116 - Oct 26, 2013 at 12:19 AM

      They should trade Leake now for….well, anything they can get. Dude is seriously over-rated

  5. NatsLady - Oct 22, 2013 at 1:23 PM

    If I recall, Chapman was not sold on being a starter.

    • jm91rs - Oct 22, 2013 at 1:28 PM

      Yeah he said he’d rather close. There are several examples though of Dusty letting players decide their own roles and that may not have gone over so well in the front office. I think they wanted a manager that will run the team instead of letting the team run itself.
      Chapman isn’t too far from free agency, I’d think a solid year of starting could get him a much bigger pay day than hitting free agency as a closer.

    • jonrox - Oct 22, 2013 at 2:10 PM

      Until the end of this past spring training, he had publicly said he preferred starting.

      • jm91rs - Oct 22, 2013 at 3:21 PM

        The dusty hater in me tells me that Dusty got to him and told him what to say. He wanted to start, then Dusty publicly said he wanted him closing and all of a sudden Chapman says he wants to close. I get the feeling he’ll probably do whatever the team decides to do with him.

      • yahmule - Oct 22, 2013 at 4:26 PM

        Dude, in your post right above this one you said the players told Dusty what they wanted to do. In this one, you said Dusty convinced Chapman to say something he didn’t believe. Change your mind over the course of two hours or just throwing darts?

    • timburns116 - Oct 26, 2013 at 12:20 AM

      And Phillips likes to hit clean-up. Players don’t always get the role they wanted

  6. yahmule - Oct 22, 2013 at 1:29 PM

    Great idea, except Chapman himself requested a return to the closer role in the spring of 2012 the last time this was attempted. I think he could become a fine starting pitcher, but he won’t if he’s not mentally committed to the role. I think they should just leave well enough alone. They have a strong rotation and Stephenson and Travieso in the system.

  7. drewy44 - Oct 22, 2013 at 1:47 PM

    It should also be noted that Chapman lacks a 3rd pitch. He’s mainly fastball / slider and has trouble with throwing the slider for strikes. He’s not going to throw 103 or 105 as a starter either. So his success as a starter might not be as good as the Reds might envision. Or I could suck and he could win the Cy Young going 30-0 with 10,000 Ks.

    • jonrox - Oct 22, 2013 at 2:11 PM

      He used to mix in a changeup but they had him drop it in his second year or so. Shouldn’t be too ridiculous to bring it back.

  8. redlegz - Oct 22, 2013 at 2:22 PM

    OK non Reds fans, let’s clarify this.. Chapman was a starter his entire non mlb career. In fact, he was so good at it that it got him a huge mlb contract after defecting. He has changeup that he has basically stopped using BECAUSE he was moved to closer and doesn’t need it. He was put in the bullpen to get him immediate mlb experience while not having a spot open in the NO WAY was it bcs they didn’t think he could start. He has been the reds best starter the past 2 spring trainings but was kept in pen bcs of injuries as well as Dusty’s ongoing pissing contest with Walt. Sorry, but 80% of the above objections contain misinformation. Btw, Chapman sure did the Reds a lot of good from the bench those last 4 games…huh.

    • yahmule - Oct 22, 2013 at 4:29 PM

      OK Reds fan, Since Reds fans also disagree with each other, why should we take you as an authority? Because you capitalize a few words to show your conviction?

      • timburns116 - Oct 26, 2013 at 12:22 AM

        No, because he’s right

  9. wheels579 - Oct 22, 2013 at 2:24 PM

    Yes that worked out great for Neftali Feliz of Texas. How many games did he win this year?

    • eightyraw - Oct 22, 2013 at 2:55 PM

      And he’s the only pitcher to ever attempt the transition. Also, we are 100% positive Feliz would not have injured himself as a closer.

    • jonrox - Oct 22, 2013 at 2:57 PM

      I forgot that relievers are immune to elbow injuries and never need to get Tommy John. By the way, do you know who Chris Sale is? I heard he’s been pretty good the last two year as a starter after beginning as a power lefty reliever.

  10. unclemosesgreen - Oct 22, 2013 at 2:37 PM

    The real problem in the Reds rotation is that Cueto can’t stay healthy with his mechanics. Maybe he can hold up better as a closer with Chapman moving to the rotation. That would be a win-win for Cinci.

    • jonrox - Oct 22, 2013 at 3:05 PM

      That’s not really true. After starting off 2011 injured, he adopted the twist motion and made 57 straight starts. Pretty much everyone involved in his recovery has said the twist isn’t really the cause of the injury, and they’ve been more of freak chances rather than a recurring problem (they haven’t even been the same injuries).

      • unclemosesgreen - Oct 22, 2013 at 3:12 PM

        But since those 57 starts, 4 significant injuries to the oblique / lat / back – all within 6 inches of each other. Close enough. I just wonder if he could give you 60 IP of one inning apiece without a totally unrelated new “side-back” injury.

      • jm91rs - Oct 22, 2013 at 3:27 PM

        The guy was already the team ace before the twist. If he can still pitch without it, I don’t know why it’s that big of a deal. I understand removing the twist is no guarantee for an injury free career, but it seems like if he can come back and be a number 2 or 3 pitcher on a good staff, he’s worth keeping as a starter.

  11. wheels579 - Oct 22, 2013 at 5:22 PM

    Such a move makes little sense for a team in win-now mode. Chapman isn’t being wasted in the closer role. The Reds don’t have another pitcher who can do that job as well as he has. It takes two years to find out if he can also thrive as a starter. Ultimately they will do what they want, but good luck trying to win now while creating more needs than you can immediately fill. Chapman doesn’t help them much on a transitional innings limit.

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