Feb 16, 2013; Goodyear, AZ, USA; Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman (54) poses for a photo during photo day at the Reds Spring Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Aroldis Chapman: How Much Wiggle-Room Will The Reds Give Him in 2013?

With Aroldis Chapman moving to the rotation this season, it makes one wonder how much ‘wiggle room’ the Reds’ Muckety Mucks will give him. They have spent some pretty decent money (in Reds’ terms) on Jonathan Broxton to close the show, he would be too expensive as a setup guy.

If, God forbid, Chapman would have several terrible starts to begin the season, would the tent fold and Mike Leake be sent to the rotation? If so, that would probably send Chappy scurrying to the bullpen, in a shell-shocked frame of mind.

If he starts out giving five or six average innings and keep the Reds in the game, everyone will surely take that as a sign of success. Good on ya Walt! Or how about if Broxton has a bad start and blows more saves than he converts? Would that necessitate change?

In my humble opinion, chances are better for Broxton to implode than Chapman. I was not totally impressed with his performance in the short time he was in Cincinnati last season. I thought it was pretty poor so I did some journalistic investigating. Out of all current relief pitchers, he is 20th in saves with 111. I did a check on all current relievers with 100 or more saves and he leads only one pitcher in converted save percentage. His is 74 percent which on this list puts him at No. 22. The last on this list is Octavia Dotel at 69 percent.

What this list is telling me is that Broxton has blown 39 saves out of 150 chances. That is just not good. Ex-Red closer Francisco Cordero, who happens to be No. 2 on the career closer board for active pitchers, has a career mark of 81 percent and he had me sent to a halfway house for addiction to Maalox.

In 137 games Chapman has yet to start a ball game. That is kind of unnerving. I recall that when he was first being used in the bullpen, Dusty Baker would have him start off an inning instead of coming in the middle of someone else’s distress.

Chapman was the most effective starter on the staff in Arizona in 2012. He appeared to be all set for a spot on the rotation until Ryan Madson went down. After Sean Marshall showed why he is one of the best setup men in the league, and only a so-so closer, Chapman became arguably the best closer in the National League.

He has the potential of being one of the best starters in the National League, even perhaps a CYA winner, he has a remarkable upside and only time will tell what happens.

Back to the original question, how short is the leash with which he will work this season?

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Tags: Aroldis Chapman Cincinnati Reds Jonathan Broxton

  • JD Rentz

    I think ultimately the positive takeaway is there are other options in the Reds bullpen should things fall apart, particularly for Broxton. I still think JJ Hoover is the realistic one to be groomed for the closer role should Big Jon falter. Chapman should be given a “realistic” leash, particularly because he was rock solid as a starter in Spring Training a year ago AND because Mike Leake was so positively bad for so much of 2012.
    Leake is a fallback starter option, so is Manny Parra. I’d rather see Chapman get the chance because a quality starter is still more valuable than a short-innings reliever.

    • Cliff@RedsToTheBone

      Hi John,

      I can agree with most of what you wrote. However there is only one real ‘closer’ out there and that is Broxton. Hoover is a good reliever but I wouldn’t want to trust it all to him. With Parra there I am not sure that Hoover will even make it back to Cincy. A quality starter is better than most short relievers, granted, but it is not better than a prime–time closer like Chappy.
      Thanks for commenting.

  • beeker

    My think that Walt will give Chapman a good long look before sending him back to the bullpen. If it ever even comes to that.

    My curiosity is more with how long of a leash will fans give him? What will they do the first time he gives up 4 runs in the first inning or two? And the second time? Remember how some were beginning to sour on Latos in early May last year, before he turned it around?

    I am concerned that a certain segment of fans out there believe that he will walk out there and challenge Cueto as the staff ace with almost no effort. And there is a real possibility that he will look more like a bottom-of-the-rotation guy for a while as he adjusts mentally and makes a few mistakes. I wasn’t solidly behind the move, but I know the day is coming when I will be preaching patience to some guy who wants Chap banished back to the pen after a few bad outings.

    • http://blogredmachine.com/ Steve O’Red

      On mark with this, beeker. I don’t think Chapman has ever experienced the wrath of the fan in his own ballpark. How he handles that will be crucial to his development, too.

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