Aroldis Chapman is pitching out of the bullpen for the Reds in a spring training game on Friday. More importantly, Chapman will be pitching out of the bullpen for the Reds this season.
The team had yet to announce anything as of Friday morning, but sources say the decision has already been made. Chapman will be the Reds' closer, and Mike Leake will be the fifth starter.
The Cincinnati Enquirer first reported on Thursday that the Reds were likely to put Chapman back in the bullpen, "barring a significant change of minds." As it turned out, there was no significant change.
Chapman was a dominant closer for the Reds last season, but the team decided to try him in the rotation this spring. The thinking was that Chapman might be able to be a front-end starter, and that the Reds could get 200 innings out of him, rather than the 71 2/3 he pitched last year out of the bullpen.
But manager Dusty Baker always favored keeping Chapman as closer. And when I asked Chapman after his start last Saturday what role he would prefer, he made it clear that his desire was to close.
All along, the Reds knew that keeping Chapman in the bullpen would be the safe decision, because while he has already proven that he can be dominant in that role, no one can say for sure that he would be as effective as a starter.
Leake has started 78 games for the Reds over the last three seasons. He was 8-9 with a 4.58 ERA in 179 innings in 2012.