By: Chris Dommermuth
The Cincinnati Reds will attempt to make Aroldis Chapman a starter during Spring Training. Chapman has been a reliever the past two seasons, after the Reds signed him for $30 million. after he defected from Cuba in 2009.
“We are going to stretch him out. We are going to see if there is enough time and he can do it. If there isn’t enough time or quality, we can send him back to the bullpen.” -Red Manager, Dusty Baker.
Chapman has been erratic at best as a reliever, but one thing’s for sure, he has the stuff to be a starting pitcher. He was sent down midseason to the minors after a horrendous start to the 2011 season. Once he got back, he showed much better control, and was a key player in the Reds’ rotation.
Chapman has 90 career strikeouts in just 63.1 innings, but he also has 46 walks in that same time span. The Reds want Chapman in the rotation partly because he’s the only option they have from the left side. If Chapman can’t succeed in Spring Training as a starter, the Reds will have to go with five right-handed starters.
“You prefer a lefty in your rotation, but you want to go with your five best starters. A good righty is better than a bad lefty.” – Dusty Baker.
If he fails to make the rotation, the Reds could always move Chapman back to the bullpen, where I believe he’s a better fit. His control isn’t good enough to throw 180-200 innings in a season. His electric stuff makes him the perfect back of the bullpen pitcher. As a setup man, or future closer, Chapman should be a difference maker.
The problem is, that the Reds are a small market team, that has to justify to it’s fans the $30 million dollar contract they spent on him. Even if Chapman can’t make the rotation, it’s a good idea to have him stretched out in case of injury.
“A lot depends on how he does, but it also depends on our needs. If he doesn’t make the rotation, we could send him to (Triple-A) Louisville. But I wouldn’t be opposed to having three left-handers in our bullpen.” – Dusty Baker
If he can sprinkle in a consistent third pitcher, and keep his walks down, Chapman will be a solid mid-round pitcher. The problem is, you wont know if he’ll be a starter or reliever until the draft is over, making him a huge risk. If he falls far down the draft, he may be worth taking a flyer on. If he can accumulate 180 innings, he’s almost guaranteed 200 K’s.