Aroldis Chapman enjoyed one of the best Cactus League seasons of any player in baseball. He should have been placed in the starting rotation as the team talked about all spring.
Pitching coach Bryan Price has worked with him, and he has his delivery more compact and less hectic. Still a little herky-jerky up in there, but it is working fine.
Instead, he got bumped to the bullpen in lieu of Homer (American Psycho) Bailey. If anyone was watching, Bailey had a spring that would usually send someone to Louisville if they were fighting for their job.
Chapman has come out firing. In his first assignment on opening day against the Miami Marlins, he came in as a setup man in the eighth inning with the Reds up 2-0. He faced three batters, threw 10 pitches and recorded two strikeouts, while recording his first hold of the season. You could see him smiling as he walked near Jose Reyes, because he made him look silly on a fast ball for the last out.
Newly acquired setup man turned closer, Sean Marshall nailed it down in the ninth with an almost mirrored performance.
In Sunday’s spectacular come from behind win against the Marlins, Chapman came into the game in the eighth inning with the Reds trailing 5-4. He had a perfect inning with a strikeout. In the ninth inning, still trailing 5-4, he got the first two batters out before Reyes tripled and was stranded as Chapman struck out Emilio Bonfacio with 100 mph fastballs.
His line for the two games thus far is 2G, 3IP, 1H, 0W, 5K, 0.00 ERA, 1-0 with one hold. His WHIP is 0.333 and his strikeout ratio is 15/9.
I must admit it is fun to watch him, and it's easy to become excited with the chance you will see him four or five times a week in the eighth inning as opposed to every fifth game as a starter.
The control problems that haunted him in 2011 are apparently a thing of the past. He walked 41 batters in the 50 innings he worked last year, averaging nearly eight per nine innings pitched.
I realize the season is young and there is much baseball left to be played. I wonder that if he shines too glossy in the pen, will Dusty Baker keep him in there?
I imagine that will all depend on how the rotation pitchers work out. My hunch tells me that Bailey will be the first to falter.
He looks to be enjoying himself and that is important. That is a good thing, because it is time he begins to earn that $30M the Reds shelled out to land him.
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