I’m sure almost every Reds fan has seen John Fay’s tweet.
Chapman will close. But not today. He’s gone 3 of 4. Will go with matchups today. Ondrusek vs. RHs, Marshall vs. LHs. #reds
— John Fay (@johnfayman) May 20, 2012
And with that, Sean Marshall be placed back into his “original” role: setup man. Also, this doesn’t exactly end the days of Marshall being a closer. He just won’t be the closer.
A portion of the Reds fanbase is, I’m sure, applauding this move. I will also say there is a portion that dislikes the move…a lot. Those that cry for Chapman to become a starter know that the road to such is now requiring a little more length and possibly even more patience. Yes, for those that have vented they want Aroldis Chapman as the Reds closer, your Christmas came early. Didn’t even have to wait for those “Christmas in July” days either.
Early this morning, BRM’s own Matt Gahris injected his opinion on the matter. And I’m sure this will command yet another divide between those that prefer to see the Cuban Missile start and those that wish to see him as the closer.
Why the move? Apparently, Marshall is perceived as not getting the job done, at least not to the “current standards”. For the season, Marshall has recorded 1-2-3 innings in only four appearances. The last one came on April 29 against the Houston Astros.
We’ve also witnessed that on two occasions spanning ten days, Marshall was lifted from save opportunities for Logan Ondrusek (May 9 against the Brewers) and Jose Arredondo (May 19, yesterday against the Yankees). Those two appearances were bookends to five total outings and Marshall was credited with a hold for each. Marshall’s three appearances in between produced a 1-0 record with a save, no blown saves, and an ERA of 0.00.
So what gives? Despite those numbers, a .308 BAA doesn’t spell success as a closer. Again, he was getting hit, but with no luck on his side. All the hits (4) were singles, too. He registered 5 SO and didn’t walk a batter.
Dig a little deeper into Marshall’s numbers and his season-to-date evolves into something bizarre.
|vs RHB as LHP||52||8||19||1||1||2||2||16||8.00||.365||.389||.538||0||.500|
|vs LHB as LHP||12||0||3||1||0||0||1||5||5.00||.250||.308||.333||0||.429|
No one likes to see the BAA against righties being what it is: .365. Just look at the BAbip for both righties and lefties! For the season-to-date, it’s a whopping .488! If that isn’t bad luck…
No question Marshall is being hit, but in viewing these numbers, it’s not like he’s being pummeled. It may seem like he is, but not to the extent it appears.
It goes even deeper. You would be led to believe that pitching at Great American would cause his numbers to be elevated. Not so…
Maybe it’s that Marshall doesn’t own your prototypical closer “stuff”. He doesn’t possess a mid-90′s fastball. He’s doesn’t own a deadly splitter. According to Fangraphs, his four-seam fastball has averaged 90.5 mph this season. Marshall’s slider has clocked in for an average of 85.1, the curve registers an average of 76.6 and the two-seamer is a touch faster than four-seamer at 90.6.
Now, the almost unfair comps. Chapman’s fastball averages 97.1, his slider clocks in at 87.9 while his change manages an average of 93.3. It’s also no debate that the ball explodes from out of the hand of Chapman much more so than Marshall’s.
Worth noting is that Marshall’s four-seam fastball lacks the movement it did from 2010. In that season, his four-seamer exhibited a horizontal movement of 4.0. This year it is down a little to 3.0. Same holds true for the vertical movement. It was 6.4 in 2010 compared to 5.8 so far in 2012.
If there is a problem with Marshall, it’s that he pitching into purely bad luck. You can create your own luck though. Most of his pitches aren’t showing quite the movement from year’s past.
Another debate could ensue as to the value of a closer. Placing Chapman in the closer’s role may, in the mind of some, diminish his value. With the money the Reds slapped down in order to sign Chapman and given Chapman’s history as a starter in Cuba and for its national team, the consensus among the Chapman for Starter campaign will say that $30+ million was not well spent.
Let’s play a game here.
Let’s say Chapman does make it as a closer both in the interim and long term. With the dollars established closers make these days, it might not be as bad an investment as we once feared. I know. Chapman is not to that level of “established closer”, but play along.
After this season, Chapman is slated to make $4.7MM (2013) and $5.7MM (2014) including bonuses. He holds a $5MM option for 2015 and there will still be a bonus of $1.25MM to be paid from 2014-20 due to his original signing bonus of $16.25MM which is being paid over a ten-year period. Look what the Reds will be paying this season for the
services signing of Ryan Madson. Madson will collect $6MM and, most likely, be bought out for the 2013 season for an additional $2.5MM.
If the Madson signing was viewed as a waste of funds (and I have seen such stated), then at least you could be garnering some form of a return on Chapman’s salary and bonus. Better than nothing. I’ll choose that approach for now.
I’m not condoning this move, but I understand it. With the injuries to Bill Bray (who recently suffered a setback due to a sore back) and Nick Masset (has yet to start throwing after going on the DL in spring training), I had a feeling if Marshall struggled, it would likely be Chapman landing the gig.
Will we ever see Marshall reclaim his closer’s spot or will the Reds show a willingness to stick with Chapman in that role? If you’ve learned one thing in regards to Chapman and how he has been handled, it remains to be seen.
Update: (5:29 PM) That ol’ Dusty. Chapman came on in the 9th to secure the win for Johnny Cueto, thus earning his second career save. Chapman’s first save came last year on July 7 against St. Louis.