It’s always easy to say that a pitcher belongs in the bullpen. We see it when a pitcher heads to the bullpen that he throws harder. His strikeouts rise. He doesn’t have to use that third pitch, the one that hurts him as a starter. He doesn’t have to go through the lineup more than once. There is value in that.
This spring will see a dominant reliever try to make the transition to being a starting pitcher. Aroldis Chapman, the Reds’ dominant closer of 2012, will enter the spring as a starting pitching candidate. After dominating the competition to the tune of a 1.51 ERA and a 15.6 K/9 rate, Chapman will try to make the transition to the rotation. The reasons for the Reds are numerous. The simple one is this: 180 to 200 high quality innings are more valuable than 70 dominant ones. If Chapman can make the successful transition to the rotation, the Reds are getting maximum value from a quality pitcher.
This transition has been done many times throughout Major League Baseball. Most recently, CJ Wilson made the move to the rotation after spending most of his career working out of the bullpen. Wilson has been an above average starter since moving into the rotation. After two successful seasons, he received a five year, $77.5 million deal from the Los Angeles Angels.
It is easy to say that Chapman belongs in the bullpen. He’s so dominant and his arsenal seems better suited for the bullpen. Last season, two dominant relievers of 2011 tried to transition to the rotation. Daniel Bard was in the Minor Leagues by midseason because of the awful results as a starter. Neftali Feliz had Tommy John Surgery. Why would the Reds risk the health or the potentially dominant career of Chapman when they already have a stocked rotation? For a team, the answer goes back to the value of 180 to 200 innings.
Why would a pitcher who has been dominant, receives accolades for his dominance, and is regarded as one of the best relievers in the sport want to try to become a starting pitcher?
Maybe they have looked to New York and have seen the cases of Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain.
Category: FCP on OS