Re: Chapman story on ESPN - MLB front page...
A team wants to get as many innings as possible from their best pitchers. Every inning that is not pitched by a good pitcher is pitched by a bad pitcher. It makes perfect sense to have one of your best pitchers throw 200 innings instead of 70.
It is not uncommon to move a stud reliever into the rotation. It has happened many, many times.
Here are three good examples just from last year:
The White Sox's Chris Sale was a reliever in 2011 when he threw 71 innings. They moved him into the rotation in 2012 and he threw 192 innings with a 3.05 ERA.
The Cubs' Jeff Samardzija was a reliever through the 2011 season when he pitched 88 innings. They moved him into the rotation in 2012 and he threw 174.2 innings with a 3.81 ERA. He had a ERA 2.58 ERA after the All-Star break when he had already pitched more innings than any year in his career. His average fastball velocity as a reliever before 2012 was 93.8mph, but when he moved into the rotation his fastball averaged 95.1 as a starter in 2012.
Lance Lynn pitched 34 innings out of the bullpen in St. Louis in 2011, then moved into the rotation for the 2012 season and pitched 176 innings with a 3.78 ERA.
There is plenty of precedent for moving a good relief pitcher into the starting rotation. In addition to Sale, Samardzija and Lynn who made the jump last year there are many more examples. Johan Santana, Adam Wainwright and CJ Wilson are three ace pitchers who started out as relievers. They all threw 200+ innings their very first season in the starting rotation. Those are the ones I could think of off the top of my head in a few seconds. I am sure there are many more.
People want to compare moving Chapman into the rotation to the Stephen Strasburg innings limit situation. It really isn't a good comparison. Strasburg has always been a starter. He was recovering from Tommy John surgery and the Nationals wanted to limit the stress on his newly transplanted ligament that was healing in his elbow. Aroldis Chapman isn't nursing an injury and has a healthy elbow by all accounts. It is just not an equivalent scenario for comparison.
For every reliever who got hurt when he moved into the rotation you can name 10 relievers who got hurt when they stayed in the bullpen. You can get hurt no matter where you pitch. Pitchers hurt their arms all the time. It is crazy to claim that Neftali Feliz got hurt just because he moved into the rotation. He likely would have blown out his elbow if he had stayed in the bullpen too. He only lasted 42 innings after all. He was pitching great up to the time of his injury.
I think Chapman is a good bet to be able to throw at least 170 innings and likely more. If the Reds handle him carefully and limit his innings on days where the game isn't close he should be able to last the entire season in the rotation. Putting the Missile in the rotation is a smart move. If his performance suffers as a starter the Reds could always back off a while and ramp him up more slowly, or if the experiment fails he can always go back to the bullpen.