Aroldis Chapman is a bona fide starter. At least he will be. How can’t he? Chapman is arguably the hardest pitcher to hit in baseball. I mean look for yourself. 33 relief pitchers in baseball currently boast a 0 ERA – Chapman is one of 33; only, he’s pitched more innings and has more strikeouts than the other 32 relievers. The next two closest guys to Chapman? Oakland’s Ryan Cook and Logan Ondrusek. Both with 0 ERAs, both with 15 or more innings pitched. The difference? You could add up the strikeouts amassed between Cook and Ondrusek and you would still be short of the amount of Ks Chapman has posted.
His talent is unparalleled. It’s not hard to imagine six scoreless innings every five days with Chapman on the bump. The problem is, that’s not where the Reds necessarily need him – right now.
Despite how outstanding the Reds’ ‘pen has been, it’s worth keeping in mind that the Reds are without two very important arms normally utilized in late, pressure-filled situations. Nick Masset. Bill Bray. That’s not even counting the $8 million closer who won’t throw a single pitch. Take that into consideration – then, consider the fact that the Reds boast MLB’s third best bullpen ERA at 2.35. The bullpen has been a saving grace. It’s has been a safer investment than Apple. Only seven teams in baseball have a bullpen that has surrendered fewer games than Cincinnati’s. There isn’t another bullpen in the majors that has more wins. There isn’t another bullpen in the majors that’s recorded more strikeouts.
Chapman has an awful lot to do with this.
I know the common gripe: “We can’t be paying $20 million for a set-up man.”
A question to you: what dollar amount do you assign to a win? Chapman, pitching in his current role, has played a significant role in more than a few. Look beyond his 3-0 record. Of the 14 games Chapman has pitched, only four have come in a game decided by four or more runs.
In fact, the Reds have only lost two games all season when Chapman has pitched – both 2-1 losses, both to Washington. Would the W-L total for the Reds be any different without Chapman and his flawless 18 innings?
Not sure. But are you willing to find out, right now?
The bullpen has been great – guys like Arredondo, Ondrusek, Hoover, Simon and Marshall have really helped the cause. And while every one of those guys has been serviceable, what pitcher do you want on the mound, in the 8th, with bases loaded and the go-ahead run at second?
Not a question. It’s Aroldis Chapman and his 100 MPH fastball that makes even the best hitters in the game look clueless.
Aroldis Chapman will be a bona fide starter, when the bullpen is back to full strength and the Reds finally decide to do something with Mike Leake and his 7.11 ERA. Until then, just like HBO, you have your best asset available, on-demand, nearly every game.