Aroldis Chapman began the 2014 fantasy baseball season as the fourth-best closer in the league. He was behind Craig Kimbrel, Greg Holland and Kenley Jansen. Chapman has 76 saves in the last two seasons with a 2.00 ERA and 234 strikeouts. He is also one of the hardest-throwing pitchers in the league, eclipsing 100 MPH on numerous occasions. However, that arm power can come back to haunt him.
In a spring training game on Wednesday, Chapman was struck in the face with a comeback line drive. He suffered a fracture in his nose and above his left eye. He also has a mild concussion. Surgery is required and a metal plate will be inserted above the eye to stabilize the injury.
The rough estimate to recover from this surgery is six to eight weeks. He will also need time to get back into baseball mode and build up the arm strength. Realistically, the Cincinnati Reds could have their closer back by mid-June. However, he should be out until the All Star Break.
In the meantime, who will fill in for Chapman? Luckily for the Reds, they have a few players that are being considered for the closer role. Sean Marshall, Jonathan Broxton and J.J. Hoover can all be the Reds closer on Opening Day.
Broxton underwent arm surgery in August and saw his first game on March 17. He could be behind the eight ball come March 31. Marshall has a 2.40 ERA in two seasons with the Reds, but has limited closer experience. The only pitcher that makes sense is Hoover. He had a long scoreless streak last season, lasting over 25 innings and striking out 29 batters. He had 67 Ks in 66 IP last year.
Fantasy owners should target Hoover, Broxton then Marshall in that order. Hoover has the most upside of the three and has avoided any injury during his career. Obviously, it would be better for one of these to be named the No. 1 guy, but the Reds may go the more conventional route with a closer-by-committee.
Chapman should still be drafted in most leagues. Half a season is better than nothing. His ADP will drop significantly, so draft your closer accordingly.