According to The Cincinnati Enquirer, barring any last minute changes, the Reds are expected to announce that Aroldis Chapman will move back to the bullpen and serve as the team’s closer.
This news seems to end months of debate about whether the Reds are better served keeping the flame-throwing lefty at the back end of the bullpen — where he thrived last season — or shifting him to the starting rotation in the hopes of him becoming a front-end starter.
Chapman recently told CBSSports.com’s Danny Knobler that he would like to serve as Cincinnati’s closer, but there are many who feel as though the 25-year-old would be much more valuable to the Reds going forward if he joined the starting rotation. The school of thought is simply that an All-Star-caliber starter capable of throwing around 200 innings holds more value than a reliever who tosses around 70.
We’ve seen recently, though, that there is some risk to flip-flopping a pitcher’s role. Joba Chamberlain and Daniel Bard serve as cautionary tales of turning a solid reliever into a starter, while Chris Sale has proven that it can work.
All of Chapman’s 137 career appearances have come out of the bullpen. Chapman saved 38 games and compiled a 1.51 ERA in 71 2/3 innings over 68 appearances last season. He was named to the National League All-Star team and finished eighth in NL Cy Young voting.
Knobler reports that a decision regarding Chapman is not yet final, but it’s not a bad spot to be in if you’re the Reds. Either way, Chapman figures to have a bright future.