Originally Posted by Kc61
I don't agree with the way you framed the question. A starting pitcher may be more valuable than a reliever typically. But Chapman wasn't just a reliever. I think you have to weigh his value as a starter against his value as a top closer.
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.
I am not disagreeing with you, but I am not sure there is such a beast as a "sure thing" closer. The role of closer is one of the riskiest, most fluid positions in sports. Very few relievers last very long as a closer, much less a dominant closer. The turnover rate at closer is scary as hell. Of the 30 pitchers who entered last year as the closer only 9 of them are still expected to close this year. Go back a couple of years and I think only 4 of the 30 closers in 2010 are still closers. Even the best most dominant closers don't last. Guys like Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman are very few and far between. Just because Chapman pitched great as a closer last year is far from a guarantee that he would continue to do so. Is it worth the risk of keeping him at closer when he really only has to protect about 20 one-run leads per season? Many of his outings come with the Reds holding leads of multiple runs when a stud reliever is not required to close out the game. One other fact, Francisco Cordero was a mediocre reliever yet his save percentage as a Red was higher than Chapman's is. You just don't need a dominant pitcher to be the closer and it might not be the best way to utilize a dominant pitcher.