Blog Archives

February 17, 2011

All Aroldis Chapman! All the Time!

Today at the Cincinnati Reds spring training facility in Goodyear, Arizona, it was all about Aroldis Chapman.

First, John Fay interviewed pitching coach Bryan Price about things Chapman needs to work on and his future role.

“First and foremost, especially with young guys, it’s going to be about command and commanding the count. Where he would be vulnerable is if he sets a precedent of being behind in the count and guys are comfortable enough to lay off some pitches. You don’t want to get to two strikes with this guys, he has a lot of ways to put you away.”

“He has to continue to work on the slider and make it a higher-percentage strike pitch as well as finish pitch.”

Price again reiterated the Reds position that Chapman’s eventual roster spot will be as a starter, but that it’s best to introduce him to the majors via lower pressure relief situations. I like how the Reds have been handling Chapman. Letting someone break into the big leagues in a relief role allows the club to better control the pressure and the number of innings, not to mention it allows the pitcher to focus on perfecting a couple pitches instead of the arsenal a starter needs. I do look forward to seeing what Chapman can do as a starter in another year or two, though.

Dusty Baker also spoke about Chapman and his role with the Reds this year.

“One thing I want squash right now is closer-situation controversy. I know everyone want’s to be in a hurry to rush him in there. But we’ve got to get him acclimated to what he’s doing first. (Francisco) Cordero, even though it’s been exciting at times, he’s still second at least our leagues in saves the last two years. That’s something that most people overlook.”

Are there lots of people clamoring for that? I know Cordero was frustrating as hell last year, and it was nice to have Chapman available to bail him out on occasion, but I don’t think it would be wise to throw Chapman into the pressure-cooker of the 9th inning.

Lastly, John Fay interviewed Chapman via interpreter. He’s happy in his relief role and has a lot of desire to improve. Given his flashes of success last year, I’d like to see him improve, too.

Chapman also talked about the intense expectations that he feels from the crowd whenever he takes the mound.

“I really feel good when I see those things the fans want me to do,” he said. “But, really, the truth is that particular moment I don’t think about those things. I just do what I have to do. I think about my job. . . At that moment, I just want to pitch.”

That’s probably wise. Otherwise, those 105 mile-per-hour fastballs might be flying over the fences, or leaving mighty painful bruises.

September 11, 2010

Aroldis Chapman Dominates the Pirates

Aroldis Chapman was brought into the extra-innings game against the Pittsburgh Pirates last night and dominated, striking out 2 and getting a ground-out from the third. I don’t know where he fits into the future versions of the Cincinnati Reds, but he was electric last night, and I could easily seeing him supplanting Francisco Cordero in the playoffs, should Cordero continue to struggle.

Here’s Chapman throwing a 101mph heater and striking out a batter.

September 1, 2010

Aroldis Chapman’s Debut Does Not Disappoint

The debut of ChapmanThe RHM crew were there in Spring Training for one of Aroldis Chapman’s appearances. And we caught one of his performances with the Bats when they stopped by Indianapolis. We weren’t in Cincinnati for his Major League debut last night, but we were glued to the television. Dusty Baker said it best, “We weren’t disappointed.

No, no we were not.

Aroldis Chapman came on in the 8th with the Reds holding a comfortable 8-3 lead. It was the perfect opportunity for him to get his feet wet, and if he wasn’t sharp, the damage could be controlled. There was no need for damage control. Chapman’s first pitch was a 98 mile-per-hour fastball strike to Jonathan Lucroy. Next was an 86 mph slider that Lucroy swung and missed at, followed by fouling off a 102 mph fastball, before striking out on another 86 mph slider. Lucroy just became Chapman’s first big league strikeout.

Chapman’s pitch count ended up being 8 for his inning of work. 7 of them were strikes. After the initial strikeout, he got groundouts from Craig Counsell and Carlos Gomez, all while continuously throwing 100 mph or above.

What a debut. The crowd was on their feet for the 8th inning, to see the marvelous Cuban pitching phenom. And I sat at home, visions of Chapman mowing down postseason opposition in my head. A long time ago I worried about Chapman getting some terrible injury before he ever made it to Cincinnati and how hard I thought it would be to be the people in charge of deciding when Chapman was called up. Kudos to them. They’ve done a perfect job.

August 31, 2010

The Daily Brief: The Return of Harang (And the Debut of Aroldis Chapman)

Last Game
Despite passing out a copy of the Joey Votto Sports Illustrated cover, last night was Jay Bruce night for the Reds. He lead the game off with a home run and finished off the victory of the Milwaukee Brewers in the 10th with a walk-off single. Thanks to the Cardinals losing again, the Reds now have a 6-game lead.

Next Game
Aaron Harang returns from a long stint on the disabled list to start for the Reds today. He had 2 rehab starts that were not good at all, so Reds fans will be holding their breath. But wouldn’t it be awesome for Harang to pitch like the ace of a few years ago for the remainder of the season and into the playoffs? If nothing else, he should be well rested. The Brewers will send Yovani Gallardo to the mound. Game-time is 7:10pm EDT.

Chapmania Finally Arrives in Cincinnati
Walt Jocketty announced yesterday that the Reds will be bringing Aroldis Chapman to the majors today.

“We’re going to bring him up tomorrow so he could be eligible for the playoffs,” general manager Walt Jocketty said.

Chapman could have been eligible for the playoffs anyway, thanks to the 2 players the Reds have on the 60-day disabled list. But this makes it definite.

Chapman will be pitching out of the bullpen, like he has for the last few weeks down in Louisville. Relief-work has suited him well. As hard as it is to fathom, he’s throwing harder, with reports of him hitting 105 on the radar gun. And he’s pitching more effectively. In 26 relief appearances, he is 4-1 with a 2.40 ERA and he’s converted 8 of 9 save opportunities.

Who will be sent down to make room for Chapman and Harang has not been announced, but Chapman will certainly make the bullpen even more imposing. Not too many batters will look forward to facing a lefty who can touch 105.

What to Say to Sound Smart at the Water Cooler
The Reds have had a winning record for every month of this season so far, going 12-11 in April, 18-11 in May, 14-13 in June, 14-12 in July, and 18-8 so far in August, with just one game remaining. The last Reds team to do that was the 1976 squad.

April 22, 2010

Videos of Aroldis Chapman in Action

Here are a few short videos of Aroldis Chapman dominating the Indianapolis Indians despite his lack of experience on Thursday at Victory Field.

In the first inning, Chapman picked off a runner who’d strayed too far off first base.

Chapman pitched, too, with his fastball always in the upper 90s. His talent is raw, but very impressive.

And finally, what everyone is interested in seeing: Chapman batting. As in most things, he needs practice, but he did manage a hit in the game.