Throughout this off-season I will offer up various changes that need to be made for this Reds club to return to championship form. The first change that needs to occur has already commenced, as John Fay reports that Aroldis Chapman is about to begin the transition to become a starting pitcher. This is a move that the Reds should have made immediately after being swept by the Phillies in the 2010 NLDS. Nonetheless, it’s better late than never.
This past season, the Reds’ starting pitchers posted a 4.16 ERA, which was 12th in the National League. Meanwhile, the Reds’ bullpen performed admirably, posting a 3.55 ERA, just under the league average relief ERA of 3.59. Certainly, the starting rotation had some bright spots. Johnny Cueto had a break-out season, and finished the season with a 2.31 ERA over 156 innings. Mike Leake was impressive, and Homer Bailey showed flashes of what he may become. However, Bronson Arroyo and Edinson Volquez were simply terrible.
Meanwhile, the Reds’ most talented pitcher spent the entire season wasting away in the bullpen. Now, there’s no guarantee that Chapman’s dominating stuff will translate to a dominating starting pitcher, but the Reds must give it a try. Cincinnati will never have the luxury of signing proven, free agent “aces.” Aroldis Chapman represents the Reds’ only hope for a true number one starting pitcher.
Moving Chapman to the rotation shouldn’t prevent the Reds from seeking more starting pitching. There will likely be a few solid starters available via trade this off-season, and the Reds would be wise to pursue these guys. Either way, with a 100 MPH fastball, a devastating slider and a $30 million contract; Aroldis Chapman needs to pitch more than 50 innings for the Reds in 2012 if they wish to return to the top of the standings.
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