When Cincinnati Reds pitcher Aroldis Chapman entered the league a few years ago, there was a whole lot of fanfare about the dominating left-handed import. It’s hard not to get excited about a pitcher who can consistently throw 100 MPH, even reaching as high as 103 MPH at times. Although Chapman lit up a radar gun consistently, he wasn’t able to fill up his catcher’s mitt with that same consistency, causing many people to think the Reds made a mistake in signing the pitcher.
Then 2012 happened.
Outside of Atlanta Braves closer Craig Kimbrel, Chapman was easily the most dominating reliever in 2012. In 71 2/3 innings, Chapman only allowed 35 hits, aiding him to a ridiculous 1.51 ERA and 1.55 FIP. The reason for Chapman’s success this season is pretty obvious: his BB/9 was under three.
Everyone knew Chapman could strike out anyone he wanted to – - his 15.32 K/9 is all the proof we need of that. Prior to this season, however, Chapman struggled with his control, walking over seven hitters per nine innings in 2011. I don’t know what it was, but something clicked with Chapman in Spring Training, where he only walked two hitters all spring.
With all that being said, should Chapman start? MLB rumors are saying he might.
According to the rumors, if the Reds re-sign one of their two departing relievers (Jonathan Broxton and Ryan Madson), Cincinnati might replace the more than underwhelming Mike Leake in the starting rotation. This is interesting for a variety of reasons, but the obvious one is can Chapman handle the workload?
Even though Chapman was ridiculously good last season, he did break down towards the end of the season, taking a couple weeks off to rest his arm. Granted, he would have a a full year to prepare for the switch, but I’m pretty iffy on Chapman starting.
If he can throw 160 innings next season, then it’s a no-brainer. His value throwing 160 innings means a heck of a lot more than him closing games out. Furthermore, it gives Cincinnati their own Strasburg every five days, making their rotation one of the scariest in the National League.
Everyone should pay attention to what the Reds do, because it could be a harbinger for things to come in 2013.