So far, so good, for Aroldis Chapman‘s much-anticipated conversion from All-Star closer to starter.
Better than good, in fact. Chapman was perfect in his first spring outing for the Cincinnati Reds, setting down six members of the Colorado Rockies on Thursday in order – and he only needed one strikeout to do it.
It may sound strange, but that Chapman didn’t particularly need to overpower any of the batters he faced and put up a six-strikeout day is very positive news indeed for the big lefty. Above all else, it means that he’s taking a big step towards developing the most important ability he’ll need to have to be an effective starting pitcher – efficiency.
That was the name of the 25-year old’s game on Thursday, as he only need 23 pitches to get through his outing, throwing 19 of them for strikes.
Sure, he wasn’t blowing any triple-digit fastballs by anyone, but four ground outs a pop-up is just about as good a ratio you could ask for from a starting pitcher when it comes to going deep into games.
The Reds aren’t likely go run Chapman out in the No. 5 spot throughout the season if he can’t make it out of the sixth inning, after all, and how he mixes his fastball with his secondary pitches will be something that they watch for throughout the rest of his outings.
No, that wasn’t a typo – Chapman will have multiple secondary pitches this, after dominating the league with his fastball/slider combo over the last couple of years.
According to MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon, Reds pitching coach Bryan Price revealed that little piece of information, saying that the team and Chapman are “still trying to define that third pitch”. For what it’s worth, Chapman experimented with both a splitter and a changeup. Because of the shroud of secrecy that the team is keeping the left-hander’s transition behind, it’s likely that fans won’t truly get to see what kind of new weapons will be in store for NL hitters in 2013.
But, if he’s already this sharp with stuff he’s experimenting on, the Cuban Missile might soon need an new nickname to match his evolution in the bigs.