There is no doubt the biggest story line coming into the 2013 season for the Cincinnati Reds has been whether or not their star pitcher Aroldis Chapman will be a starting pitcher or not.
Yesterday, Chapman said that he would prefer to be a closer. Chapman told MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon via translator,
“I’m waiting to hear [the decision] so I can feel better, concentrate more. I don’t think [it's a distraction] because when you go out there to pitch, you can’t think about that. But it still would be better to know what they’re going to do. The truth is, if they were to make the decision, I would want to be the closer, but it’s not in my hands.”
So now the question is now what? Do the Reds continue to push him to become a starter, which many Reds fans have hoped for, or do they listen to what Chapman said and put him back into the closer’s role? And if that were to happen, what do you do with Jonathan Broxton–a guy who just signed a three-year, $21 million contract? That’s a lot of money for someone to be a set up guy.
The bottom like is this: Chapman obviously prefers the thrill and rush you get from the ninth inning with the game on the line and the fans on their feet as compared to the drawn out six-inning, over 100 pitches you have as a starter.
Chapman also said,
“In the beginning when I started closing, it was something I didn’t know,” Chapman said. “But as I started throwing and getting into the late part of the game when the game is more exciting and has more meaning, I kind of liked it. Yeah, the adrenaline goes up and I like to be in that situation. I would like to be a closer, yeah, but there are some things that I can’t control.”
My opinion? Put him back in the closer’s role. There’s a simple saying to this that says, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The Chapman situation was never broke, so why are the Reds trying to fix it? Everything was smooth sailing while he was the closer and the bullpen was set up perfectly: Sean Marshall in the seventh, Broxton the eighth and Chapman to slam it home in the ninth.
If the Reds were in fact to give him his role as a closer back, it would make life so much easier for guys like Mike Leake to win the last starting pitcher’s spot on the team. That spot would essentially be his to lose and I don’t see much competition from anyone else.
So all in all, the Reds should thoroughly consider giving Chapman the closer’s role again. It wouldn’t take nearly as much of a toll on his arm as it would being the starting rotation. Chapman says he wants it, the Reds need to give it to him.
Follow Brad Stiene on Twitter, @bs_rant1