Reds moving Aroldis Chapman from closer to starting role

Are the Reds making a mistake by moving Aroldis Chapman to the starting rotation?

2/18/13 in MLB   |   Pat   |   5232 respect

September 30, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman (54) delivers a pitch against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the ninth inning at PNC Park. The Cincinnati Reds won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY SportsLast year, Aroldis Chapman was one of the most dominant closers in baseball for the Reds.

This year, he'll be in the starting rotation, and Jonathan Broxton will attempt to handle the closing duties.

Are the Reds making a mistake here?

Jerry Crasnick of ESPN cites a few examples of former bullpen pitchers who were moved to the starting rotation and were considerably less effective, notably Daniel Bard and Joba Chamberlain.

Will the same happen to Chapman?

We won't know for sure until this experiment plays out, but it would seem as though Chapman is far better suited for relief pitching, based on his repertoire.

He throws almost exclusively fastballs, throwing the heater nearly 90% of the time. It's by far his best pitch, and he has been known to reach triple digits regularly.

He'll have to ease up a bit with his velocity if he wants to be a starter, and he'll also have to mix up his pitches a bit more.

Can he do that, and still remain effective? Possibly. But why mess with a good thing?

To make matters worse, his manager is notorious arm-destroyer Dusty Baker. Anyone remember Mark Prior?

If Dusty is his usual self, Chapman's career could be over after only a year or two as a starter, as long as Baker has his finger on the button.

Broxton isn't a suitable replacement in the closer's role, and there's really no guarantee that Chapman will even be an above average starter.

I think the Reds are making a mistake here, but only time will tell.
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2/18/13   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

I disagree. Top starters or even average starters throwing 180 innings provide more value than a reliever throwing 60. Chapman is only going to provide so much value from relieving (judging by last year, about 3.3 or 3.6 WAR depending on which one you use). As a starter he could become a 5 or 6 win player. At the same time, with relievers having limited value, the dropoff from Chapman to Broxton isn't going to be that significant unless Broxton is an absolute disaster, and even then they'll just plug someone else in there to close. Anyone that's ever played fantasy should know how replaceable closers are.

Also, according to Chapman's Pitch F/X data, he throws the fastball about 80% of the time. His slider, meanwhile, is also pretty nasty. The changeup looks like it needs development, but there really shouldn't be a question on if Chapman has the stuff to start. Of course he does.

I'll also note that for all Dusty's issues as a manager, there hasn't really been any major arm issues with his pitchers while on the Reds. I think Cueto had Tommy John a few years back, but he's rebounded very well.

2/18/13   |   Scott   |   53795 respect

With the Reds in the same division as my Cardinals, I'm all for Dusty Baker screwing up a good thing by moving Chapman into the rotation.