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  1. I don’t think the Reds have given any indication that they plan on using Chapman in relief. His struggles as a starting pitcher are almost 2? months passed, and we have no idea if that’s an indication of him struggling with control as a starter or if it’s a cold streak, perhaps psychologically driven by adjusting to life away from his family, as a millionaire in the US.

    He’ll be a starter. The Reds have a very deep rotation this year – that, and Volquez’s return spurred the Reds to move Chapman to relief, a la Price, for this year and likely this year only. Any suggestion that he’s going to be a reliever is speculation that runs contrary to public statements and logic from what appears to be a savvy Reds front office.

    Comment by Jake — September 1, 2010 @ 10:10 am

  2. This is right on. Walt Jocketty has stated plainly that they still view him as a starter long term, but this move was simply a way to get him to the majors and help this season. (At the time, in June, the Reds had a glut of starters) I’d guess he goes to winter ball somewhere and starts there, then starts in AAA again next season, with a June/July callup possible. That would also serve the purpose of potentially delaying arbitration until after 2014 as well.

    Comment by nycredsfan — September 1, 2010 @ 10:16 am

  3. I have a hard time believing a team would pay 30 million just to have the rights to him if they only plan on him being a reliever. Yeah I know teams sometimes overpay for saves but this is a different situation because he wasn’t a proven closer like say a Fransisco Rodriguez was when he got his big contract. I’m sure this is another David Price situation where he gets his feet wet before throwing him in the rotation.

    Comment by Dwight S. — September 1, 2010 @ 10:45 am

  4. if you can use your 2~ era reliever in high leverage situations consistently, then yea the guy is tremendously valuable.

    Comment by awayish — September 1, 2010 @ 11:02 am

  5. There are bigger wastes of talent in the world than using Chapman as a reliever. Nothing surprises me at this point. Our species is that stupid.

    Comment by this guy — September 1, 2010 @ 11:05 am

  6. His stuff his “reliever” written all over it though. Really good reliever, but still, reliever.

    Comment by bill — September 1, 2010 @ 11:16 am

  7. Just because you’ve only seen two of his pitches, Bill, doesn’t mean he is pidgeonholed. He has a changeup that he doesn’t use because he doesn’t need it. 90% of Randy Johnson’s pitches were fastballs or sliders. Did that stuff have reliever written all over it too?

    Comment by Jake — September 1, 2010 @ 11:22 am

  8. You’re not smart.

    Comment by this guy — September 1, 2010 @ 11:26 am

  9. His stuff reminds me a lot of Randy Johnson, actually.

    Comment by Bill — September 1, 2010 @ 11:27 am

  10. Chapman is actually a better prospect than Randy at the same age. This doesnt mean that he makes the same quantum leap in command that Randy made of course, but hes actually better than Randy was at this stage. This could actually work against him, as the Reds will see this as an opportunity to ride him too early.

    Either way, great investment for an exploding team.

    Comment by this guy — September 1, 2010 @ 11:47 am

  11. Yeah, but an elite level reliever year is still going to top out at around the same wins added as a good starter’s year.

    Comment by Travis L — September 1, 2010 @ 12:30 pm

  12. “I have a hard time believing a team would pay 30 million just to have the rights to him if they only plan on him being a reliever.”

    See also: Rodriguez, Francisco (3/37); Rivera, Mariano (3/45); Lidge, Brad (3/37.5); Cordero, Francisco (4/46); etc etc etc.

    Comment by Jason B — September 1, 2010 @ 12:30 pm

  13. I worry that he ends up like Neftali Feliz, where he’s good enough in the role that they just leave him there and don’t even let him try starting.

    Comment by Brandon — September 1, 2010 @ 12:47 pm

  14. Jocketty has said that Chapman will be back in the rotation next Spring. This 2nd half bullpen move was made because (1) they felt he’d reach the majors this year out of the bullpen and help in September and (2) to make adjustments/find consistency in the bullpen instead of the rotation.

    There were a number of cultural adjustments, too. See John Erardi’s article from the Cincinnati Enquirer on Aug 21 for some good details on that.

    According to the article, the move to the bullpen has helped bring him better focus as he could be called on to pitch on any given night out of the bullpen. It sounds like he struggled at first with having complete freedom (and responsibility for himself) compared to how his life was controlled in Cuba.

    From what I’ve seen/read about him on the mound, he’s greatly improved his command during his stint in the bullpen. I saw his 2nd start of the year, and he would throw 5 straight strikes, then 7 straight WAY out of the zone. He had trouble with a consistent pitch speed on his fastball, varying from 90-100. More recently, he’s consistently in the strike zone. First pitch strikes, more strikes, and he’s cut down on the walks quite a bit. He’s allowed just 4 walks in August (including his ML debut last night) after issuing 7 free passes in 12 July innings. He’s now consistent with his FB speed from 98-102, which presents a nice contrast to his mid-80’s off-speed offerings.

    Now, I can’t sit here and promise that his career is in the rotation, but I feel pretty confident that he will be given a couple of chances to make his name pitching every 5 days. My hunch is that he will do just fine in his transition back to the rotation. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him start 2011 in either the Cincinnati or the Louisville rotation.

    Comment by GregD — September 1, 2010 @ 1:07 pm

  15. So when taking into account the arbitration thing, it seems to make sense to have him as a reliever now, and then start next year back in AAA so he can work on his changeup. Bring him up in July, and you save money, plus get to find out if he can be a legit starter. With his heater and slider, a solid changeup could make him better than Randy Johnson.

    Comment by Mr. Sanchez — September 1, 2010 @ 1:17 pm

  16. This is only Feliz’s rookie year though. At the start of the year, I don’t think he was ready enough to be a big league starting pitcher, as his offspeed stuff needed a bit of refinement. Throughout the year, his changeup and especially his curve/slider or whatever it is, have improved enough to where I think he could be a top of the rotation pitcher soon enough.

    Also, Scheppers has been moved to relief, so hopefully he will be the next Ranger rookie closer in 2011 while Feliz moves to the rotation.

    Comment by Eric — September 1, 2010 @ 1:22 pm

  17. Slight edit..

    Just looked at the numbers, and his changeup has been pretty poor statistics-wise, but the change in break and location he is getting off of it from April to now has been exceptional.

    Comment by Eric — September 1, 2010 @ 1:24 pm

  18. Chapman had no control in the Cuban leagues either, so I would think it has nothing to do with adusting to the U.S. Unless he pulls a Koufax and finds his control as he matures, he’s likely going to be a bust as a starter.

    Comment by KJOK — September 1, 2010 @ 1:40 pm

  19. Breaking in a pitcher through the pen is sound strategy, but if the idea was to prepare him for starting, I think they’ve hindered his development more than anything.

    He’s gone from 127 IP in 08 to 108 in 09 to probably ~70 this year. They’d have to baby him next year as a starter just to keep him at 150-170 IP, and even that’s going to be a huge increase in his workload.

    Beyond that, the problem with refining his secondary stuff is that he just hasn’t used it (throwing almost 84% fastballs in releif). The changeup might be better today than it was a year ago, but it’s hard to say definitively because he almost never throws it.

    I have no idea what they’ll actually do with him, but if I was a betting man, I’d wager that he never gets a serious shot at starting.

    Comment by Brandon — September 1, 2010 @ 2:01 pm

  20. Or, he was 21 and younger in the Cuban league, and like many young hard-throwing pitchers, they need time to learn how to locate pitches. Suddenly, he has accuracy coming out of the bullpen. The dude’s only 22. Your argument cannot possibly hold water.

    Comment by Jake — September 1, 2010 @ 2:14 pm

  21. Nycredsfan made a good point. Not only is Chapman probably more valuable as a starter long term, he’s likely to be cheaper as a starter because of the extra development time.

    Comment by Jon S. — September 1, 2010 @ 2:19 pm

  22. Being a reliver now, through the playoff race, and post-season does not mean reliever next year, reliever forever, etc.

    It simply means that for this year, to get his feet wet, and to gain some experience without being saddled with all of the pressure, he could be very valuable in the bullpen …. not maybe in terms of WAR, but in terms of getting guys out and advancing in the post-season.

    I have said multiple times I think he will be used as David Price was, and likely be as successful … and probably won’t start the following year as a SP in MiLB, although he could.

    I don’t see any reason to leave him in the minors, nor dso I see any necessity in starting him at this current time. Too much, too soon is becoming more common than not.

    Let him dominate teams for an inning at a time, then go from there.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — September 1, 2010 @ 2:40 pm

  23. What the hell? Why do you feel the need to use that word on a baseball forum? Do have any idea how epically offensive that is to a large portions of the population? Keep the slurs to yourself, dude.

    Comment by Jason461 — September 1, 2010 @ 2:42 pm

  24. Full disclosure, I am a Reds fan. From what I remember, Chapman was pretty wild in his first few relief appearances. At some point the Louisville pitching coach worked on his footwork and balance and he seems to have pulled it together a bit. I was not there and do not remember which article I read this in so it is completely hearsay but that is what I have accounted for his improved control.

    Comment by RJ503 — September 1, 2010 @ 3:28 pm

  25. Yeah but as I mentioned those situations were different because they were established closers that didn’t have the option or ability to start. If you’re going to invest that much money in an unproven player(atleast at the MLB level) I’m sure your mindset is that you expect him to start, especially if he has the ability to.

    Comment by Dwight S. — September 1, 2010 @ 3:33 pm

  26. Maybe I shouldn’t say expect them to start but at the very least give them the opportunity to start first before moving him to the bullpen.

    Comment by Dwight S. — September 1, 2010 @ 3:35 pm

  27. Jake, let’s just take the Koufax part out of his argument. You disagree with this?
    Unless he finds his control as he matures, he’s likely going to be a bust as a starter.

    Makes pretty good sense to me.

    Comment by BlackOps — September 1, 2010 @ 3:44 pm

  28. You guys realize he’s 22, right? How many 22 year olds put up a 4.01 FIP in AAA? Calling that failure, or suggesting that it portends failure is laughable. Who knows what degree of success the kid will have? All we can say with any certainty at this point is that the kid has dynamite stuff with room for improvement in his command. And when that comes from the left side, it’s something 30 teams would love have.

    Comment by RMR — September 1, 2010 @ 4:25 pm

  29. I gotcha…your point is well taken, they weren’t paying that money for someone they envisioned as being only a reliever in his time with the team. (Particularly with the money they already had tied up in one “established closer” already – see the Cordero contract above.)

    Comment by Jason B — September 1, 2010 @ 4:47 pm

  30. Beyond getting his feet wet, he’d be wasted in the minors for a team pursuing a post-season berth. While not the best ‘pitcher’, he clearly has the best stuff of anyone in the ‘pen, and used judiciously (note he wasn’t pitching against the Brewers’ three best hitters last night) he can put up a lot of zeroes over the next two months. The Reds can’t afford to leave him in the minors at this point. I’m not sure what contender could…

    Comment by blackout — September 1, 2010 @ 5:39 pm

  31. I’d venture to say that his control is improving. Obviously a pitcher without control is less effective than a pitcher with control, but there is no reason to think that he will not improve in this area.

    Comment by Jake — September 1, 2010 @ 5:40 pm

  32. He’s got time to learn control, as most pitchers do as they age. Just because he doesn’t have an ability to do it well enough right now, doesn’t mean that he won’t in the future. With his kind of ability, he may not have to have excellent control to be a top-notch starter in the majors, just as several hard throwers of the past have shown us. This guy has an exceptional ability to throw the ball hard, and there’s a very good chance that it will translate into an ability to be dominant in the future as a starter.

    Comment by Nathaniel Dawson — September 1, 2010 @ 7:23 pm

  33. He also didn’t pitch much at all for a year or so. Hard to have a whole lot of consistency with something without actually going out and doing it.

    Comment by Nathaniel Dawson — September 1, 2010 @ 7:32 pm

  34. You said …

    The Reds can’t afford to leave him in the minors at this point. I’m not sure what contender could…

    What i said …

    and probably won’t start the following year as a SP in MiLB, although he could.

    Price was awesome in the playoffs, but started the following year as a SP in the minors.

    I don’t think Chapman will do that, but he could if his full repitoire and command isn’t ready for MLB. It’s one thing to have a young guy and use him in relief where he can rely on his 1st and 2nd best pitches exclusively and try to throw the ball by everyone. It’s a different situation entirely, when you’re asking him to go through the lineup 3 times, and using more than 2 pitches.

    This year, as a reliever, is obvious …. he must. Starting next year (Opening Day rotation) as a SP, is not as obvious.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — September 1, 2010 @ 9:52 pm

  35. If CIN faces Philly in the playoffs, Chapman’s #1 job will be to get Utley, Howard, and Ibanez out.

    If CIN faces Atlanta, it’ll be McCann and Heyward (and McLouth, Ankiel)

    SDP has 3 LHB’s, including AGonz.

    SFG has Huff and Schierholz, and Panda is a SW who hits better from the left-side, so Chapman turns him around (still pretty good v.LHP though).

    Yeah, Chapman’s going to be valuable if he can do his job as expected.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — September 1, 2010 @ 9:58 pm

  36. @ Nathaniel Dawson – “he’s got time to learn control.”

    Time in which to blow out his elbow, too.

    To me it’s a catch-22… milk all the (reduced) value you can out of him now, as a reliever, or groom him as a starter and accept the risk that he’ll either 1) never find control pitching multiple innings, or 2) break down in Louisville while he’s stretching himself out to join the CIN rotation.

    Comment by Carligula — September 2, 2010 @ 1:45 am

  37. Chapman has electric stuff. Look at his stats post all star in AAA and witness his first 2 IP as an RP. (sure he could blow apart but he could also be K-Rod 2002 … 2005 K-Rod was a dominate CL)

    In June when they move him to relief it was ONLY because they had this plan in place … for him to come up late in the year and be and RP (al la David Price) … Now in light of what’s happened with Volquez, Leake, Wood, Harang, and Wood SINCE June … maybe they would be better off leaving Chapman stretched. But there was no way to know all that in June.

    If the Reds had overpaid for Cordero in $ and years … then you could consider Chapman as possibly the future closer. He still could be … but you bet they will try him as a starter much like Joba (and Price) before making that call. (and I’m sure there are others)

    I’m willing to bet he’s never had as good of coaches as he’s had the last 8 months. Sure his control is (was?) a problem. He’s certainly gotten better with that since June. ( I own Brandon Morrow in my dynasty league … control issues … sure … been that way awhile … but he seems to be getting it … and that dude can really strike out guys and now is showing some control and decent WHIP).

    Teams like the Reds don’t outbid the Yankees and pay 30 Million for offshore talent (well never before) … and they certainly don’t do that thinking that he’ll top out as a non closer bullpen arm. He’ll get his SP shot … maybe more than one (Bailey certainly has). Heck … Bailey might be the guy to succeed Cordero. (I’m a bit biased by the fact that Cordero suck us something like 10 Mil per … add that to Arroyo and Harang and you have about 1/2 the Reds payroll … no way given the Reds payroll issue do I ever commit that much to a closer).

    So in AAA post all star (19 games … 7 non starting games pre all star) Chapman did this:

    0.87 ERA
    20.2 IP
    10 Hits
    2 ER
    1 HR
    5 BB
    35 K
    1.80 ( GO/AO … for those that might not know that is REALLY REALLY GOOD)
    0.137 Avg against

    I’d be willing to bet that no other pitcher in all of the minors had stats that beat that. (Yes it was AAA)

    So far in 2 innings. 3 K, no hits, 3 weak infield grounders … 8 pitches 7 strikes (first outing) … 11 pitches 9 strikes 2nd IP.

    10 of 19 pitches > 100 MPH (no data on how many of the other 9 were NOT fastballs)

    Is he going to help the Reds … probability high. Might he go and walk 4 straight … maybe. How many other teams do you think would like to take the change that he’ll be dominate?

    Could he blow out his elbow ligament next pitch … well sure … at least all the scouting reports I’ve read say his mechanics are ok … no red flags al la Strasburg. Bear in mind that it’s the breaking stuff that is almost always to blame for blown elbows. Fastballs usually blow out shoulders (much less common but much harder to come back from)

    My real question is … now that the Reds have an 8 game lead … which losing would require a near historic collapse …

    Do they now want to try and have Chapman pitch multiple innings?

    They have Arroyo and Cueto 1-2 or 2-1 (you pick). Not exactly matching up well to their likely playoff foes.

    Phillies: Halliday-Oswalt-Hammels
    Braves: Hudson-Hanson-(Jurjens/Minor)
    Padres: Latos(if his arm doesn’t fall off)-Garland-(Richards/LeBlanc)
    ( Ok … Padres I don’t fear so much)

    But if SF catches the Padres … much better top 3.
    And if the Cards sneak in to the Wildcard … much better top 3

    Who’s the 3rd starter for the Reds in October?

    Voquez (I hope so if he can get right)
    Leake (if he has any gas left and can rest until then)

    or might it be Mr. Chapman?

    Comment by Greg — September 2, 2010 @ 3:32 am

  38. I’d disagree Circle and see a precisely similar path to Price. Especially with the arbitration clause in his contract, it makes sense to delay his service clock with a move similar to Price–let Chapman start next year to refine his pitching, improve his changeup, and learn to pitch more effectively as I assumed he’d be the type to run up 100 pitches through 5 and 6 innings regularly (which means Dusty Baker would be likely to blow his arm by giving him 120+ pitches regularly in long outings). I can see no reason to start him with the big club next year and would think he’s all but certain to start next year in AAA.

    Comment by Mr. Sanchez — September 2, 2010 @ 8:03 am

  39. He could also pull a Randy Johnson, now, couldn’t he?

    Comment by george — September 2, 2010 @ 8:31 am

  40. You’re missing my point, Circle. His usefulness now surpasses developmental concerns. A team with the luxury of doing so would still be starting him at Louisville. A contender needs to leverage every bit of talent, even perhaps at the expense of development. So it’s not about getting his feet wet, it’s about leveraging resources.

    Comment by blackout — September 2, 2010 @ 1:36 pm

  41. Dammit Greg … You stole all my “Thunder”

    Chapman is a special talent.
    Chapman might well blow out that arm (but it IS the breaking stuff that usually does that)
    Chapman’s future is as the Reds #1 starter (fail me might)
    Chapman in the pen makes sense for the Reds in 2010.
    ( Had they known what there playoff rotation looked like they *might* have left him starting in AAA and limited his inning)
    As above the Reds might be better off in OCTOBER with Chapman as an SP. I hope he could go 4-5 innings for the … and I would try and use him in Sept for at least 2-3 innings soon to help that.
    Chapman will have to fail ( after 2010 ) as an SP before a team like the Reds moves him to the pen. (see CJ Wilson for a *could happen* alternative)
    Sure BB/9 rates are of a concern … but that was his first taste of non international hittters.
    ( Personally I think in 2011 he might be on the same *path* as Morrow )

    Quit hating on this guy … he may well have just as much a future as Mr. Strasburg. If he becomes D. Price how bad is that?

    Let’s see what happens after MLB IP > 2. So far … pretty nice … and don’t think for a minute that the Reds “decided” to throw him against the *lesser* hitters from the Brewers … in the comming weeks he’s going to face some of the best hitters in MLB. Good luck to them … they will need it.

    Comment by Greg — September 3, 2010 @ 2:19 am

  42. Oh, I think he should be up now as a reliever, no doubt.

    What I am saying is that if they [1] want to use him as a starter and [2] feel that his pitches/command need more work, he could start in MiLB and get called up during the year.

    What I don;t think they should do is just start him in the rotation in 2011, just because he had a dominant september in 2010 as reliever.

    I don';t think throwing 200 IP right off the bat has shown to be a good strategy, including his comp … Liriano.

    Bottom line: if he can throw strikes consistently … he should be in MLB. He’s going to throw innings in MiLB anyway. what I would do is give him 2-3 weeks off in the middle of season, and/or give him some 5 inn starts in the middle of the season, so that you aren’t in a playoff chase in 2011 with Chapman nearing 190-200 IP … because Baker will ride that dog till it drops.

    Liriano made his debut in 2005, and just now passed 150 IP. Given that Chapman is a hard throwinf fastball-slider guy, with recently adjusted mechanics, I would proceed with cvaution, and I am generally a “pitch em if ya got em” type regarding prospects. I hate to see guys that could be productive in MLB, logging MiLB innings.

    as for the Reds and service time. IMO, this is the reds “window to win”. They need to go for it this year and next because Rolen ain;t gonna last forever, and young guys are going to become free agents soon enough. But, if his control is going to lead to a lot of high stress, high pitch innings, then he needs to work it out in MiLB, where the pressure to be the next JR Richard will not be as overwhelming.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — September 3, 2010 @ 8:12 pm

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