I am someone who likes to cater to what the people are talking about. I ask around, search the web and see what’s getting people really riled up in the news of baseball, and more recently, in the news of the Cincinnati Reds.
Last week, we saw the Reds almost perfect the four-game sweep against the Cubs. However, in the marathon of a game, the Reds lost in Wrigley in a 6-5, after Julio Borbon cleaned up with a walk-off RBI. In that game, we didn’t see the 100 MPH fastball of Aroldis Chapman.
Yes, it’s going to be a Dusty Baker/Aroldis Chapman piece.
Message boards and interactions I ran into with Reds fans last week went a lot along the lines of “What the heck are you doing Dusty? Put Chapman in to save the game.” Or, one that really caught my eye was, “We need to send Dusty home, with a lifetime supply of toothpicks, and find someone who will give Chapman more than an inning every couple games.”
Do I want to see Chapman more? It sure would be nice. Are we going to? Probably not.
In an article from the Cincinnati Enquirer, Baker said, “I’m not going to use Chapman in the eighth,” Baker said. “It’s too early. Something happens to Chapman, you’re stuck with the people everybody wants you to stay away from. The days of the eighth-, ninth-inning closers . . . That’s kind by is by the wayside.”
This is why Chapman is wanted by Cincinnati hopefuls so much. Chapman is 17-for-19 in save opportunities this year, and that’s good enough for fifth in the league. His ERA is third lowest on the team at 2.10. Chapman has also only put 12 guys on base with walks in the short time he’s been on the mound.
Chapman has pitched a total of 30 innings this season. He’s seen action in 32 games, which is more than any other pitcher on the rotation. In the short time he does get on the mound, Chapman has been able to strikeout 52 batters (good enough for fifth on the team at that category).
So, since Dusty isn’t going to throw Chapman in the game in the eighth inning, it’s safe to assume Reds fans can stop complaining about that, and start looking for other scenarios to win close games before the “Cuban Missile” comes to save the day.
My answer? Well, I’ve got a couple in mind.
Alfredo Simon is one. He’s 2-for-3 in saves this season, granted he doesn’t get too many opportunities with Chapman on the roster. His ERA isn’t great among the closers on the roster, but it’s not terrible at a ripe 2.87.
Another option is Sam LeCure. The mountain man beard is sure to raise questions, but the results don’t. With an ERA of 2.70, LeCure has pitched 26.2 innings, just shy of the pitch count of Chapman. As of June 1, LeCure has been struggling. Beforehand, LeCure had an ERA of 1.16, but has since blown his two save opportunities and allowed five runs. For him, I’d wait a little while.
Having Sean Marshall out of the bullpen and on the disabled list is hurting the Redlegs more than a lot of people realize. In his short appearances earlier this season, Marshall saw seven innings and allowed just two runs in 11 games.
My guess is Baker will continue to search around for an answer. But he’s tired of answering the Chapman question. I’m going to start looking for the bullpen to help clean up some games. I hope you do the same.
Note: Last week, I talked about the Xavier Paul/Derrick Robinson feud. Since, Paul has been pleading his case harder than Robinson. Just a thought. For what it’s worth.