Now that the Cincinnati Reds are looking ahead to 2011, one major question is the future of Aroldis Chapman.
The Reds could keep Chapman in the bullpen along with a 105-mph fastball and have a shutdown closer for years to come. However, they could also slot the lefty fireballer in the rotation and enjoy hundreds of innings. But would Chapman hold up as a starter? Will his devastating fastball and slider play as well in the rotation.
That's what keeps manager Dusty Baker up at night.
"We’re not really sure if we’re going to start him again," Baker told SIRIUS XM's Mad Dog Radio, noting that the club is already strong in the rotation. The Reds are expected to pick up Bronson Arroyo's $11 million option and also have reinforcements behind him in Homer Bailey, Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Edinson Volquez and Travis Wood.
"You know, the bullpen was new to [Chapman] last year," Baker said of the Cuban who opened the year in the rotation for Triple-A before segueing to the bullpen in advance of a callup. "That’s why we... tried not to overpitch him, not too many innings. But I see him personally probably being somewhere in the back end of the bullpen. Because it’s hard to find a guy that can get righties and lefties out equally and that gas he has and you haven’t even seen his breaking ball and his changeup yet so his potential is unbelievable. So probably somewhere in the back end of the bullpen."
While Chapman could be devasating in the bullpen, Baker shouldn't be so quick to shoehorn Chapman in there. With three above-average pitches -- if not plus pitches -- he could be a perennial Cy Young award winner in the rotation. These pitchers are far, far more valuable than any reliever could ever hope to be, even if Mariano Rivera in his prime.
-- Evan Brunell
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