Why Aroldis Chapman is Better for the Reds as a Closer


It seems like every year around this time I hear some rumblings about why Aroldis Chapman should be moved to the starting rotation for the Cincinnati Reds, and that he’s being misused as the Reds’ closer. I hear comparisons between Chapman and Hall of Famer, and fellow left-handed flame thrower, Randy Johnson. The argument seems sound enough, seeing as how dominant Johnson was as a starter. But is Chapman becoming a starter really what’s best for the Reds?

Since joining the Reds in 2010, Chapman has been absolutely dominant on the mound. As a closer, over the last three years with the Reds, Chapman has become a three time All-Star, and has accumulated 112 saves and 340 strikeouts. Last year in particular, Chapman posted a 2.00 ERA, a 0.83 WHIP, with 36 saves and 106 strikeouts in 54 games, all while coming back from one of the most horrific injuries I have ever seen on a baseball field. With his huge frame, intensity and blazing fastball, I believe he’s one of the most intimidating pitchers in baseball today.

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But I’m not convinced all of that would make Chapman an ideal starting pitcher for the Reds. He has an amazing fastball and a great slider, but I have to wonder if that would be enough to get Chapman into the later innings. Not to mention the kind of stress that throwing a 102 mph fastball for seven innings would put on his arm. And after multiple at-bats against Chapman, it’s not ridiculous to think that more and more batters would eventually catch up to his fastball and get the timing of his pitches.

And if Chapman was moved to the starting rotation, who would be the Reds’ new closer? The natural assumptions would be Sam LeCure, Jumbo Diaz, Sean Marshall or J.J. Hoover. While I like those guys a lot and I believe that they’re great pitchers, I don’t think they would be great replacements for Chapman as the Reds’ next closer. Be it their ERA, or nagging injuries, I just don’t see it. Aroldis Chapman is just too dominant for the Reds.

That’s why I like Chapman as a closer. I love the idea of the fastest arm in the Reds bullpen coming out at the end of the game, when batters are tired and less likely to catch up to his heat. It’s a spot that works for him, and one he’s been incredibly dominant at. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love for Chapman to be a great starter for the Reds, but I just think he’s better as their closer. I don’t think the Reds need Chapman to be the next Randy Johnson, when they already have arguably the greatest closer in the game today.

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