I’m writing this after tonight’s game, which I will gloss over. There really isn’t a lot to say about an 11-1 loss. The offense sucked, the pitching sucked. For once, I didn’t care when Willie Harris came into the game. Pretty much no one can even complain about Dusty tonight, which is the favorite hobby of many, as it’s not like any minor managerial adjustments would have made a difference in the game outcome.
So instead, let’s talk about a guy who hasn’t pitched in, oh, three days: Mr. Aroldis Chapman. Now, we’ve all done plenty of talking about what’s going on with Chapman, but his use thus far is interesting. In the first 10 games of the season, Chapman appeared in five games, pitching eight innings. For those of you, gentle readers, who are excellent at math, realize that this could mean many different combinations of outings and one of them is two outings where he pitched one inning, and three outings where he pitched 2. That is the one that happened.
That’s a lot more poly-inning appearances than in 2011 – where Chapman had three 2 inning outings all year, and out of 54 games he appeared in, he pitched in more than 1.0 innings only 8 times. Plus, if you go back to where we were after Sunday night’s game, Chapman would have been on pace to pitch over 120 innings, which hasn’t been done by a reliever in actually kind of a long time, and double Chapman’s innings count last year. I feel like there are maybe two main, non-exclusive explanations for this.
- The organization wants to keep Aroldis on track to start later sometime later on. Keeping pitch counts up would probably be getting Chapman back into the rotation in the middle of the season. But if we think that Chapman is going to spend the whole year in the bullpen, pitching more innings might help a little, but that’s maybe a little Verducci effect reliant, which given that I’m pretty skeptical of it, I don’t know how much the Reds buy into it. How much of a difference is it going to make if we’re transitioning Chapman from a bunch of frequent, short appearances to pitching many innings every five days, than if we’re transitioning him from a bunch of frequent, slightly longer appearances to pitching as a starter? In either case, I would assume that the difference in the two types of pitching has the potential to put some stress on Chapman’s arm.
- The slightly more rational approach might just be that we’ve needed him to pitch a lot as he and Sam Lecure are in better shape to throw more than one inning than the rest of the pen, since they were starting in spring training. We have had a lot of extra inning games, a lot of close games, a shaky rotation, and a ‘pen that’s not going on all cylinders.
The fact that we haven’t seen Chapman in the last two games, maybe makes me slightly more inclined to the latter. That is, I suspect Baker was using Chapman in the first two weeks just to fill the needs of the team as he saw fit, and then (perhaps with some help) realized that it was resulting in an unsustainable workload, and has thus backed off of using him. Or, it’s simply what Dusty said, and he didn’t want to use Chapman on the second day after pitching two innings. (Didn’t stop him last Friday, but, ok.) And didn’t want him to pitch today, because, well, duh, what’s the point. And there is no plan for how to use Chapman in a way that’s best for the organization both now and in the future.
In other news, I still feel bad for Bill Bray. I mean, at this point, he’s probably better off being told he has a terrible injury, so he can justify his terrible performances to himself, you know, assuming he isn’t in fact terribly injured right now.