If Chapman is in the bullpen, it will make the Broxton signing look incredibly silly.
Because a) Chapman will close, making Broxton a 21M$ set-up guy. or b) Broxton will close, meaning the Reds will be wasting one of the game's best arms as a middle reliever.
I know I'm in the minority, but I'd prefer he stay in the bullpen. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Here's my prediction.
Reds begin Chapman as a set up man in the bullpen. They announce that they are leaving the door open to starting him later in the season.
When Broxton has a couple of bad outings, Chapman takes over as closer and does not start.
That's what I expect. Personally, I'd rather the Reds decide one way or the other. If it's the pen, let Aroldis close from the outset, and you have a great bullpen like last year.
Hopefully Leake has a good year as a starter.
Hopefully Cueto doesn't pull an oblique in the playoffs this year.
I frame the issue this way: Giving every opportunity for Chapman to break the rotation is answered by how it might look in a postseason series, when a member of the rotation like Cueto goes down in game 1, and ALL you're left with is Latos, Chapman, Bailey and Arroyo to finish out the series. Chapman in the bully didn't help us much in games 3, 4 or 5 last year.
The most interesting question is this:
How many posts in the thread when Reds announce Chapman will begin the season in the bullpen?
Tradrumor's post asks another good question - without Aroldis, is the Reds' rotation really that good? Is it a playoff winning rotation? I think it's a fair question and probably the key issue as the Reds think this through.
Using Aroldis Chapman in the bullpen is like driving an Indy car in a go-cart race. Using Mike Leake in the starting rotation is like driving a go-cart at the Indianapolis 500. One job is much more important than the other.
It is wise to use your best soldiers for the whole battle rather than saving them to mop up the enemy stragglers after the battle is almost over. You are much more likely to win the battle if your best soldiers are fighting it.
It is wise to use your best pitchers when the outcome of the game is being fought over in the early and middle innings rather than saving them to get the last three outs when the game is already pretty much decided.
Using Aroldis Chapman for the last inning with a three run lead is a waste. You don't need a great pitcher to protect a three run lead. He should be used to make sure the Reds get a lead in the first place, not to wipe up the crumbs. Even a bad pitcher can protect a three run lead 99% of the time.
You are more likely to have a lead in the late innings if your best pitchers throw more innings. As a starter Chapman will throw 3x more innings than he would as a reliever. If he doesn't throw those extra innings then a lesser pitcher will.
And while, as Doug often points out, a single reliever isn't that critical, I think differently about premium late inning relievers. Guys who regularly cover the 8th or 9th inning effectively. Not the same thing as a middle man innings eater.
The problem here, of course, is that Chapman's success level as a starter is unknown. So it's trading a relatively sure thing in the bullpen to something more questionable in the rotation.
To me, this one is for the professionals. They have to project how good a starter Chappy can be. If they believe he has enough different pitches, stamina, etc., and is likely to be a first rate starter, the decision is made.
If they think the odds of him being a first rate starter is in the 50-50 range, I think he stays in the pen.