This has undoubtedly been the year of the pitcher. So far this season, baseball has seen three no-hitters, two perfect games, and five other no-hit bids have been lost in the ninth inning. Baseball has been introduced to fiery young aces such as Stephen Strasburg, Trevor Cahill, and Mat Latos, and now you can add one more to the list.
Today, the Cincinnati Reds are expected to call up left-handed Cuban sensation Aroldis Chapman.
Chapman, who defected from Cuba last July, was acquired by the Reds after Cincinnati won a bidding war for the 22-year-old in January.
Since signing a six-year deal worth $30.25 million with an estimated $16 million in bonuses, Chapman has been designated to Cincinnati’s Triple-A affiliate Louisville where he has wowed everyone with a nasty slider and a 103 mph fastball.
After struggling with his command as a starter in Triple-A, Chapman was moved to the bullpen, where he has consistently overpowered minor league hitters. In 26 relief appearances, Chapman was 4-1 with a 2.40 ERA. In 30 innings out of the bullpen, Chapman has used his triple digit fastball to fan 49 hitters and enters the big leagues with a scoreless inning streak currently at 10.
In Chapman’s final appearance in the minors last Friday, the lefty struck out the side and was clocked at 105 twice. Many believed that the minor league scoreboard was a few digits off the actual speed including a scout in the stands. After the scout changed the battery on his radar gun, assuming it was on the fritz, Chapman rocketed another fastball that once again blew up the radar gun at 105.
Now, Chapman takes his electric fastball to the Cincinnati bullpen as the Reds try to hold on to their six game lead over St. Louis in the NL Central. By calling up Chapman now, the Reds make Chapman eligible for the postseason against lineups that have never seen him before.
Chapman, who competed for the final spot in the Reds starting rotation in the spring, will be in relief duty for Cinci and should give the Reds bullpen a much-needed boost. Cincinnati’s bullpen currently ranks 21st in the MLB with a 4.18 ERA and both Dusty Baker and GM Walt Jocketty believe Chapman immediately improves the Reds pen for a run in October.
“We felt with his stuff, if you shorten the game more he should be successful,” Jocketty said. “That’s why we put him in there for now. We’ll get him back to starting next year.”
If Chapman can continue to have success out of the bullpen and command his 105 mph fastball, National League hitters are in for a long September and baseball fans are in for a must-see October.