The Reds named pitching coach Bryan Price as their new manager yesterday, replacing Dusty Baker. I was listening to First Pitch on MLB radio on Sirius/XM yesterday morning, and they mentioned that with the managerial change, the Reds could move closer Aroldis Chapman into the Reds rotation. Baker was the guy who wanted Aroldis Chapman to serve as his closer over the last two seasons, while Price was in the put Chapman in the starting rotation camp.
Now that Price is the Reds new manager, will we now hear that he will put Chapman in the rotation in 2014? I have a feeling he will at least address it, and I asked Cincinnati Enquirer beat reporter John Fay this same question on Twitter on Tuesday, and you can see his response below. The fact that he responded tells me that it is a question that many have.
RT @faketeams: chances Price puts Chapman in rotation now that he is managing?//We'll know in 3 hours, 21 minutes— John Fay (@johnfayman) October 22, 2013
During the Reds press conference to announce Price as their new manager, Price was asked what he will do with Chapman, and here is his response:
Price on Chapman: put best team on the field and put players in position to succeed. #reds— John Fay (@johnfayman) October 22, 2013
"Put the best team on the field and put players in position to succeed." Are the Reds a better team with Chapman as their closer or at the top of their rotation?
I think they are a better team with Chapman at the top of their rotation. Look at the teams that made it to the NLCS this season: the Dodgers and the Cardinals. The Dodgers have two ace starters in Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. The Cardinals have an ace in Adam Wainwright, and in soon to be ace Michael Wacha. To compete with teams like the Dodgers and Cardinals, teams need to build their teams around their starting rotation. The top of their rotation specifically. Pitching wins playoff games, and ace level starters increase a team's chances of winning in the playoffs.
The Reds have Mat Latos at the top of their rotation right now, and Homer Bailey and Bronson Arroyo as their second and third starters, but Arroyo is a free agent this offseason and won't be back with the team in 2014. Replacing Arroyo with Chapman in their rotation gives them two excellent starters at the top, with Chapman joining Latos, and Bailey moving down to their #3 starter.
I just published my updated top 25 starters for 2014 yesterday and may have to update it again if Chapman is thrown into the Reds rotation next season. I think he could be a very dominating starter, and he showed some of what he can do as a starter back in spring training 2012 where he went 2-0 with a 2.12 ERA with 18 strikeouts and 2 walks in 17 innings.
Here is what ESPN's Keith Law wrote about Chapman in April 2012, after Chapman dominated as a starter in spring training, but was moved to the bullpen:
It's great that Chapman has punched out 15 of 27 batters faced this season, but he was a lifelong starter in Cuba and has the off-speed pitches to handle starting in the U.S. if he was just given the chance. His fastball might only sit at 93-94 mph as a starter, but it would likely cause less stress on his arm if he's not airing it out on every pitch, and he has the slider to miss plenty of bats. Arms like this are often forced to the bullpen by injury or lack of command, but Chapman hasn't been hurt (beyond shoulder soreness in November that disappeared with rest) and has never been given the opportunity to refine his command in longer outings. The Reds owe it to themselves to try him as a starter.
If the Reds decide to move Chapman into their starting rotation, there are plenty of closers in the free agent market that they could sign to replace him including Joe Nathan, Fernando Rodney, Grant Balfour, Jaoquin Benoit, Edward Mujica and Brian Wilson. I could see Wilson fitting in nicely at the back of the Reds bullpen.
Heading into 2014 fantasy drafts, some might think moving Chapman into the rotation hurts his fantasy value, but I disagree. I think it increases his fantasy value, as he should provide double digit wins, a low 3.00 ERA, low WHIP and around a 10 K/9 in 2014. The only downside is the fact that the Reds could, and should, limit the number of innings he throws.
What do Fake Teams readers think? Should the Reds move Chapman into their rotation?
Before you answer, I leave you with this tweet from John Shea from the San Francisco Chronicle:
Price on Chapman as #reds starter: Decision not made, but, "Pitchers get better by throwing innings. I haven't changed that philosophy."— John Shea (@JohnSheaHey) October 22, 2013
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