With everyone from ESPN to Yahoo to that weird guy across the hall who likes to stop me and tell me sports news reporting that Aroldis Chapman is a strong candidate for the Kris Medlen treatment this year, I want to get in line with every other Cincinnati fan and state my belief that Chapman is going to break out in 2013.
But J., didn’t Chapman break out in 2012? Yes, kind of.
It’s true that Chapman put up numbers that caused comparisons to be made between the Reds fireballer and a young Mariano Rivera, but that’s not what the Reds were looking for when they signed him to a six-year 30+ million dollar deal in 2010. Chapman was a starter in Cuba at the time
The case can be made that, if Chapman is indeed the next Rivera, then we should let him be. And I agree. But it is still early enough in his career and in the contract to try one last time to make him the ace the Reds thought they were getting when they signed him. A rotation that includes Johnny Cueto, Aroldis Chapman and Mat Latos would be downright terrifying to opposing teams. That’s what the Reds are hoping for.
With the success of Kris Medlen last year, the timing is right. Medlen, of course, broke out after a move to the rotation in the middle of the season, winning 9 of his 13 starts and posting an ERA of 1.57 for the season. Those numbers are absolutely ridiculous and while Chapman’s bar should be set a little lower than those gaudy numbers, an ERA of 2 points higher would still be fantastic, the signs are there that Chapman could approach similar highs.
And if it doesn’t work out we just move him back. This kind of flip flopping is never good for a pitcher, see Graves, Danny, but if the Reds don’t try one last time to see if he can be the dominant starter they hoped he would, they will regret it for the length of his career. With the downside being what it is, mainly Chapman as a dominant closer, this is a low risk high reward type move. And sometimes those work out. Remember, in 1989 the Reds drafted a talented young shortstop by the name of Trevor Hoffman. While he wasn’t much of an infielder in the Reds system, he turned out to be a pretty darn good pitcher for the Padres and the Marlins. Hopefully, this time, the Reds will reap the rewards of their gutsy move.