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View Full Version : An off-the-wall idea for Chapman



Brutus
08-19-2012, 06:14 PM
I've been thinking about the Aroldis Chapman debate, an I have an idea that I'd like to see the Reds try with Chapman -- or any Major League team, for that matter.

The question that has been fueling Redszone for a while: whether to make Chapman a starter or make him a reliever. How about both?

Starting pitchers have a pretty regimented routine. The day after making a start, they take the day off. Two days after a start, they pitch at about 75-80 percent for usually 20-25 pitches to get some light work in. On the third day, though, they often throw about 25-30 pitches at full speed out of the bullpen.

So I wonder why the Reds, or any team, couldn't use this philosophy with Chapman (or another starting pitcher). Since any starter would be pitching 25-30 pitches at full-go on a third day, why not make him available to pitch out of the bullpen for an inning? You'd maximize a player's value and not add an extraneous work on the arm. An NL team could actually go with a larger bench if they used their starters in this fashion, as theoretically you'd have five extra bullpen arms available -- one different player per day -- and you could use one or two of the extra spots toward fielding a bigger bench. If it appears they aren't going to be needed in the 7th or 8th inning, you could simply give them their normal bullpen session while the game is in progress.

Joe Maddon has used this philosophy a few times with his starters, although not as a full-time strategy. But while it wouldn't be popular immediately because it's such a new concept, it makes intuitive sense. You could squeeze an extra 30 innings a season out of your best pitchers, using them in high-leverage situations, by merely transferring the work they already do.

To me, this would allow Chapman to be a guy that influences over 200 innings as a starter, but also influence an extra 30 games a season as a reliever.

Redsfan320
08-19-2012, 06:47 PM
It makes some sense, but the big argument people will make is that pitching in a game-situation is much more stressful on the arm than pitching in the pen.

320

Brutus
08-19-2012, 06:51 PM
It makes some sense, but the big argument people will make is that pitching in a game-situation is much more stressful on the arm than pitching in the pen.

320

I think there could be something to that over a long period of time, but I would wonder if, in a single-inning situation, the amount of added stress on the arm isn't negligible.

redsfandan
08-20-2012, 05:14 AM
You'd have one extra bullpen arm, not five, since only one of the five would be available on any given day. It would just be a different extra arm every day.

Relievers warm up before they go into the game. So, depending on what happens in the inning, the potential is there for the starter to make more pitches than he would otherwise.

And then there's Dusty. Giving him an idea like this would be a recipe for disaster.

I like having ideas to throw at the chalkboard to consider. I just don't think this one would fly.

Brutus
08-20-2012, 09:38 AM
You'd have one extra bullpen arm, not five, since only one of the five would be available on any given day. It would just be a different extra arm every day.

Relievers warm up before they go into the game. So, depending on what happens in the inning, the potential is there for the starter to make more pitches than he would otherwise.

And then there's Dusty. Giving him an idea like this would be a recipe for disaster.

I like having ideas to throw at the chalkboard to consider. I just don't think this one would fly.

I noted in my post that it would be one different guy available per day, so essentially it would replace one reliever.

Nonetheless, I don't see how this would be a disaster for Dusty. Knowing you have one guy available for probably only one inning a day, he's limited in how he can use those guys.

dougdirt
08-20-2012, 09:40 AM
Well, the main problem, aside from the stress on the arm being different, is that you have to wait until the game is over to find out if you needed to use him or not. Then you have a guy needing to throw his bullpen AFTER the game. That isn't going to sit well.

Brutus
08-20-2012, 09:46 AM
Well, the main problem, aside from the stress on the arm being different, is that you have to wait until the game is over to find out if you needed to use him or not. Then you have a guy needing to throw his bullpen AFTER the game. That isn't going to sit well.

I don't subscribe to the stress on the arm over a period of an inning. I think that's more of a cumulative thing. I don't think that's something that would manifest itself in 25 pitches.

Regardless, if it's a 9-2 game, you could have the bullpen session during the game. Or, if it's 4-2 and the starter is going eight innings and a closer coming in for the 9th, that's another situation where you can probably safely go ahead and have the bullpen session during the game.

I do agree it might not sit well, but when someone is getting $5-10 million a year, that's a minor job inconvenience.

Brutus
08-21-2012, 02:15 AM
I'll carry this over from the Stanton thread, as it was being discussed whether a club should hypothetically trade Chapman for Stanton. I'm an emphatic no on that, as you can find Giancarlo Stantons a lot easier than you can find Chapman. But that's not the point of this post.

On the subject of whether Chapman will be a starter going forward, it was argued that Chapman was put back in the pen after spring because the Reds didn't trust him as a starter. After reviewing several comments through the year, I think there is absolutely not an ounce of truth to that. I think it was all about the injuries to Madson, Masset and Bray.

Here is a chronological look of the comments made by Dusty and Walt on the subject:

February 21, Dusty reminds people that Chapman would have been stretched out in the fall but an injury shelved Chapman, putting it off until the spring:


"We are going to stretch him out," manager Dusty Baker said. "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."

Chapman was supposed to pitch in the Arizona Fall League as a starter, and then in one of the Puerto Rican winter leagues. But shoulder soreness canceled the plan.

"We would have the answers by now," Baker said, "if things went according to plan."

http://espn.go.com/mlb/spring2012/story/_/id/7599072/cincinnati-reds-prepare-aroldis-chapman-starting-rotation

March 29, the club is strongly considering Chapman over Homer for the last rotation spot, although Dusty says it's not just about Chapman as others are in the mix. He does, however, note Chapman's strong spring:


“He’s had excellent spring,” Baker said. “He’s worked hard. He’s more engaging. Everything is positive. There’s more of a comfort level. He’s more acclimated to our country. He understands English a lot better than he lets you know. He’s come a long ways in a short period of time.

“He’s working harder. You see him running on his own. He does more things on his own, positive things on his own. Where he comes from, he is used to being told.”

http://cincinnati.com/blogs/reds/2012/03/29/no-decision-on-chapman/

April 1, as news of Madson's injury comes about, Jocketty talks about the possibility of moving Chapman to the pen temporarily, and reminding people that the Cardinals used Adam Wainwright there in 2006 for one season when Isringhousen got hurt before moving him back to the rotation the following season:


"We have good alternatives we can turn to," Jocketty told reporters. "Other clubs have done it in the past. I did it in St. Louis. When Izzy went down, Wainwright stepped in and we won the World Series."

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-04-01/news/sns-rt-bbo-reds-team-reportsx82f2ea1-20120401_1_cincinnati-reds-reds-manager-dusty-baker-class-aaa-louisville/2

April 2, Dusty talks about how difficult it was to move Chapman, and that he's still in line to be a starter:


"That was a very, very tough decision because Chapman could be one of our best starters or best relievers," Baker said. "It is a situation where with the injuries that we have, starting out early in the season when the starters are lucky to go five or six innings, we had to shore up our bullpen."


"Chapman is going to be a starter," Baker said. "He is going to be a very good starter. He's a smart kid. He actually anticipated it. When we lost Madson and Masset and Billy Bray is not sharp yet, through the process of elimination, he figured that stuff out."

http://www.foxsportsarizona.com/04/02/12/Reds-sending-Chapman-back-to-bullpen/cactus_league_landing.html?blockID=700804

April 26, Bryan Price talks about Chapman being a starter eventually and TSN looks at other reliever-to-starter cases:


This spring, Chapman showed numerous encouraging signs that he finally is learning to pitch in the big leagues. He paid attention to baserunners, improved his fielding, picked up his tempo and, most important, didn’t let failure derail him.

"Quite often last year, if the first guy got on, Chappie couldn't make it through the inning," Price says. "He was really hard on himself. We've always emphasized to him to just compete until he's no longer in the game, but I think he's starting to hear us a little more."

Chapman also is learning that locating a 95-mph fastball typically works better than blasting a triple-digit offering over the middle of the plate. With improved fastball command to go with a slider that he can throw 90 mph, you're talking about the best power arsenal in the game. To make hitters more miserable, Chapman is fiddling with a split-finger fastball.

"I don't think we've seen the best of him," Price says. "The repetitions (as a starter) he was able to get in spring training allowed him to grow as a pitcher, and I feel that's how it will continue to go. He's going to start at some point and time. I don't know if it's going to be this year. Certainly, I would think by next year. "

http://aol.sportingnews.com/mlb/story/2012-04-26/nefali-feliz-daniel-bard-chris-sale-lance-lynn-jeff-samardzija-bobby-valentine

May 17, Price talks about Chapman's spring and Jocketty says they have not ruled out him starting in 2012, but it's unlikely:


Still, for some Reds fans, the move of Chapman to the rotation can’t happen soon enough — Chapman, in their view, would be an immediate upgrade over right-hander Homer Bailey or righty Mike Leake, who had a strong outing Wednesday night, allowing one earned run in six innings. General manager Walt Jocketty, in fact, says Chapman arguably was the team’s best starter in spring training.

But the Reds, after losing closer Ryan Madson to a season-ending elbow surgery, kept Chapman in their bullpen. Subsequent injuries to righty Nick Masset (shoulder) and lefty Bill Bray (groin) made that decision look even more prescient.

Price adds:


“The thing we saw in spring training was command of both sides of the plate, the two-seam fastball, a much-improved slider and the split. He has the aptitude and ability to be a three-pitch pitcher with above-average command and above-average stuff.

“But it’ll be very similar to (when Chapman started in) the bullpen. You’d have to expect a learning curve.”

http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/cincinnati-reds-aroldis-chapman-may-be-starter-someday-but-for-now-will-stay-in-bullpen-051612

May 25, Starter or Closer? Walt Jocketty weighs-in Jayson Stark's piece on Chapman:


But then the closer, Ryan Madson, had to go visit his friendly neighborhood Tommy John surgeon. And set-up workhorse Nick Masset's shoulder started throbbing. And that was the end of that debate. Off went Chapman to the bullpen, where he has pretty much saved the Reds' entire season, by giving up zero earned runs all season.

"If we didn't have him in our bullpen right now," Jocketty said, "we'd be in tough shape."

So the Reds have no doubts that what they did "was best for our team," the GM said. "But what's best for his career is probably to start him."

http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/page/rumblings120525/should-aroldis-chapman-starting-pitcher-closer

July 23, Dusty again talking about why Chapman was moved to the bullpen:


Chapman prepared in spring training to start. Had Madson, Nick Masset and Bill Bray not have been hurt during spring training, Chapman would have likely been in the rotation.

“We needed him in that role,” Baker said. “Where would be be without him initially in the set-up role and now as the closer? He’s been involved in half our wins. I hate to think where we’d be without him in that role.”

http://cincinnati.com/blogs/reds/2012/07/23/chapman-to-start-wait-till-next-year/

I'll admit that we don't know for certain the Reds will follow through on these comments and make him a starter next year. However, it was very clear they had every intention of doing so until the injuries to key bullpen arms.

I'd personally be surprised if Chapman isn't pushed to the rotation next season, especially if Homer Bailey doesn't pitch more consistently down the stretch. I believe the Reds will wind up re-signing Madson if they don't pick up his option. And with the possibility of having back Madson and/or Broxton and Masset, there may be no need to keep Chapman back there next year.

Brutus
08-21-2012, 02:15 AM
double