Reds in 2013: Aroldis Chapman


And what do we have here? The Cuban Missile making a leap to the Reds starting rotation. Still creates a bit of a divide among the Reds fanbase. These days, what doesn’t? Still see a tweet here and there about the now-departed Drew Stubbs and the ire of some will arise. This situation of Chappy to the rotation raises it just as much, if not more.

No question the for the 2012 season, Chapman was every bit as electrifying as Mike Trout. Think about that for a moment before you decide to dismiss my claim.

Aug 18, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Chapman pitches during the ninth inning against the Chicago Cubs at Great American Ball Park. The Reds defeated the Cubs 5-3. (Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports)

What one player created such a tenor at his home ballpark during the 2013 season? I doubt there would be that many, if any at all, that could top Chapman in that category. When the gates to the Reds bullpen swung open and you saw #54 was entering the game, you stood and cheered if you were a Reds fan because you envisioned triple digits on the radar. You took a dry swallow proceeded by a lump in your throat if you were an opposing hitter.

Well, those days may be out the window. So, too, could be the long string of pitches registering triple digits on the stadium radar. Depends on how Chapman is when he reports to spring training. Depends how Chapman progresses during spring training. Depends on the plan Dusty, Bryan Price and GM Walt Jocketty have in store.

The other day, Cliff took a guess at what he thought Chapman (and other members of the Reds roster) could produce for the 2013 season. His numbers show 13 wins, a 2.47 ERA, and a 13.5 SO/9 rate. I feel those are little aggressive especially for a guy that has never started an MLB game before. Well, outside of spring training, that is, and some would say those don’t count either.

There is honestly no way to predict how Chapman’s 2013 will go. We’re not privy to “the plan”. I’ve read where the Reds could be looking to gain from 25 to 30 starts from Chapman. That will depend on innings, another forum of great debate in Redsland.

Point of such debate: health. Another: pitch count. Kind of intertwined, I think. That’s why I have been a proponent of the Reds working Chapman in a means similar to how the Atlanta Braves did with Kris Medlen last season. I’ve stated such on more than one occasion. I am fully aware that Medlen was coming off Tommy John, but the Braves “saved some mileage” on Medlen’s arm last season by pursuing that route.

Then again, Chapman has started games while he was in the Cuban league and was also a starter for the Louisville Bats in 2010 before being moved to the bullpen in order to help the Reds in their 2010 pennant and playoff push. (Well, push may be an overstatement there.) He didn’t start any games during the spring of 2011 and never was considered to do such. Last spring he started 4 games and had clearly earned a spot in the rotation. There was a small detail. The ‘pen ran into the injury bug. There was honestly no other choice. That did work out well. Chapman performed so well that we have the divide between those that want Chapman as the closer and those that want him as a starter.

And now add that it’s been such a long time since he’s been provided the privilege of starting any meaningful games. While I like the move, I now it’s not without risk.

But beware. Same could happen with injuries in the bullpen this spring, too (gasp!). We know the route Walt and Dusty will take should that occur once more. If the Reds break camp and head back to Cincinnati with Chapman in the starting rotation, all eyes will be on not only the Cuban Missile, but Reds management as well.

This move could be the one to define the Reds and their 2013 season. This and thinking about center field from a defensive standpoint.

Regardless of what role Chapman has in 2013…

We can only dream of that now, huh?