If given the proper time, there is very little doubt that Aroldis Chapman has the potential to be one of the game’s most prominent starting pitchers. With that being said, however, everyone knows Chapman already is one of the most dominating relievers in the game. Coming into the 2013 season, the Cincinnati Reds wanted to utilize the dominating Cuban left-handed pitcher more, tossing him into the starting rotation while Jonathan Broxton would close games for the Reds. It seemed like a pretty open-and-shut case: Chapman would get more innings, more opportunies to get hitters out, and could lead the rotation to a division championship. But things are getting very, very complicated.
Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker has made it clear that he still wants Chapman to be the team’s closer, but general manager Walt Jocketty seems to have other ideas. One cannot blame Jocketty for wanting to start Chapman. I mean, it’s very logical to assume Chapman would transition to the role smoothly, seeing as his fastball is out of this world good. However, things haven’t gone over too well thus far in Spring Training.
It’s not that Chapman has stunk it up in Spring, but he’s just not his normal self. In his eight innings that he has thrown thus far, Chapman has walked four and only struck out four. Why does this matter? Well, the reason I had a feeling Chapman was going to break out last season was his Spring Training statistics. Last Spring, Chapman struck out 18 hitters in 17 innings, while only allowing two walks.
I know us baseball fans think it’s an easy transition from the bullpen to the rotation; however, none of us are sports psychologists. Whether we like to admit it or not, there is some psychology in this situation. If Chapman wants to remain closer, it is probably best for everyone involved to keep him as so. A happy, dominanting closer is a heck of a lot better than a grumpy, inconsistent starting pitcher.