Reds Rapid Fire: Time to make Chapman a starter?

Weathering the storm: The Cincinnati Reds were coming off a horrific 2-10 stretch that left many fans (and bloggers like yours truly) in panic mode.

However, including Friday night’s 2-1 edging of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the team has responded with three wins in four games to give them a 30-28 record on the season. That puts them just 3.5 games out of first place where the St. Louis Cardinals (34-25) reside. The Milwaukee Brewers (31-26) – who the Reds have dominated to the tune of 7-2 this season – sit in second place, 2.5 games back of the Cards.

Obviously, the Reds aren’t going to be able to withstand any more 2-10 stretches this entire season if they want to repeat as NL Central champs. But it looks like they have been able to weather the storm and stay right in the thick of things for the time being.

Sorry, St. Louis and Milwaukee, you’re not getting rid of Cincinnati that easily. It’s going to be an interesting three-team race to follow all summer.

Rotation needs a Missile?: There is no question flame-throwing lefty Aroldis Chapman will be a starting pitcher at some point in his Reds career. Well, the club might as well make the move now.

Chapman was always a starter before defecting from Cuba and signing with the Reds. In fact, he was even a starter with Triple-A Louisville for the majority of last season. The only reason he was moved to the bullpen is because the Reds had an abundance of starting pitching and felt Chapman could best help them in the short-term pitching in relief.

However, that glut of starting pitching has been significantly depleted. Edinson Volquez is a complete headcase at times. Homer Bailey is always hurt. Even if things end up working out long-term this season with starters Johnny Cueto (who looks like the ace thus far), Bronson Arroyo, Mike Leake and Travid Wood, that would leave one spot open in the rotation. Why not give Chapman a shot?

Also, as a starter he is less likely to have drastic control issues. Pitchers like Chapman need to settle into a groove and you can’t do that as a reliever. He needs to be in situations where a walk or two won’t completely kill him like it would in the 8th inning of a tie game.

Again, does anyone doubt that Chapman will be a starter at some point? He doesn’t seem like a closer to me, and the Reds certainly did not invest $30 million in him to make him a middle reliever. The time is now to make Chapman a starter. The Reds don’t even need another lefty out of the pen now with Bill Bray and rookie Jeremy Horst already in there.

Bullish pen: Speaking of relief pitchers, one thing is clear: The Reds have one of the best bullpens in all of MLB. It’s really staggering when you look at the numbers that pitchers like Logan Ondrusek (3-2, 1.69 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 26 strikeouts in 32 innings) Nick Masset (1-3, 3.48 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 33 Ks, 31 IPs), Bray (1-1, 1.33 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 16 Ks in 20.1 IPs) and closer Francisco Cordero (3-1, 1.65 ERA, 11 saves in 13 chances, 0.88 WHIP, 20 Ks in 27.1 IPs) are putting up. Masset was a disaster the first couple weeks of the season, but he’s been lights-out ever since. His overall numbers don’t even do justice to how well he’s pitched over the last several weeks.

Also, the Reds have added the very-effective Jose Arredondo (1.93 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 7 Ks in 9.1 IPs) who was stellar as a rookie with the Los Angeles Angels in 2008, but missed all of last season with an elbow injury.

I also like Horst in the pen, and hopefully the Reds get Sam LeCure back soon because he was looking like he found a home as a long/middle reliever.

Any way you want to cut it, one of the clear strengths on this year’s team is the bullpen. If the starters can just get through six innings, the Reds are going to have a very good chance to win every time they take the field.

 

I like Dusty, but … Why does he always have to make at least one “He really just did that?” decision every day? Whether it’s doing something ridiculous like batting Paul Janish in the two-hole of the lineup (which he doesn’t do often, but even doing it once is too many) or batting the pitcher when it’s clear said pitcher is gassed and a pitch-hitter would be the wise move to make, or the number of other head-scratching decisions he makes.

Again, overall, I like Baker. You can’t argue with the results and he’s won everywhere he’s been. And he is fresh off a 2010 season when he led the Reds to their first playoff birth since 1995. So, I want to make it clear the Reds have the right manager. But he still makes bone-headed decisions at times and it can be quite frustrating to the fan who is diehard enough to rarely (if ever) miss a game, whether it’s in person, on TV or the radio.

Yonder update: Yonder Alonso is closing in on a call-up, but it sounds like he’s really struggling in terms of his defense in left field. That’s no surprise considering it’s harder than most people think to take a lumbering 6-foot-2, 240-pound first baseman and try and make him an outfielder. Especially if he’s never played outfield before.

However, one thing Alonso can do is hit and he’s doing plenty of it this season. At Louisville, he’s batting .320 with six home runs and 32 RBIs.

Catcher-of-the-future Devin Mesoraco is also enjoying a big year with the Bats. He’s batting .315 with six homers, 30 RBIs and an OPS of .932.

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