There is a raging debate in Reds land that involves 2 groups mainly. Group 1 absolutely can’t stand Homer Bailey and would rather have anyone but him as the 5th starter. Group 2 basically thinks that Chapman should either start or close for the Reds due to money and that he throws hard. The combining of these 2 groups creates something I find really hard to handle in a debate mainly because it’s all based off someone’s opinion. I don’t have a problem with either of these 2 sides it’s just incredibly hard to hold a meaningful debate when it’s driven by trying to prove someone else’s opinion wrong.
For me it’s quite simple why you take Bailey over Chapman at the moment. There are a handful of things Chapman has never been able to do consistently that is normally required of a major league starting pitcher
Pitch deep into games.
- He has only pitched more than 6 innings in a start 1 time in his career. In the minors as a starter he averaged just 5 innings per start.
- Of pitchers with at least 60 combined innings in the majors the last 2 years he has the highest BB/9 (6.54) in the majors. He’s walked 17.8% of the batters he has faced so far in his career, which is not surprisingly the highest in the majors also during the same span.
Throw more than 2 pitches.
- So far in Chapman’s career he has only thrown a fastball and a slider in real game action. Dusty said after his start on 3/29 that he threw change ups, but even if that is true it would be the first time Aroldis has thrown anything other than the 2 previously named pitches. If Chapman had the ability to throw strikes this wouldnt be a much of an issue because Chapman has great swing and miss rates on both his fastball and slider.
Homer Bailey has been able to do all 3 of those things.
To be perfectly honest, those 3 reasons are not the biggest reasons why I don’t put Chapman in the Reds rotation out of spring. The single biggest issue is that I simply don’t believe that the Reds 5th starter should come down to Bailey or Chapman. The guy who is likely their worst starter is Bronson Arroyo, and the Reds will not bump Arroyo from the rotation out of spring. 1) He makes the most money. 2) He has no redeeming qualities other than the supposed ability to “eat innings”, thus would most likely make a pretty mediocre reliever at this stage in his career.
The easiest way to solve this problem is you send Chapman to AAA. Doing so allows you to find out if he actually can throw a 3rd pitch, find out if his spring control is more than just spring stats being totally worthless (almost always are btw), and will allow you to see if he is going to be a pitcher that will give you 6 innings on a consistent basis. Sending Chapman to AAA does 1 also very important thing. It buys you time. It allows the Reds the ability to see if Arroyo is going to be the batting tee he was in 2011. If Arroyo or Bailey bomb in April I doubt moving either one to the bullpen is going to be a big issue, especially if Chapman is repeating his spring numbers at the AAA level. Specifically his command. The worst thing that can happen by sending Chapman to AAA is that you miss 3 April starts and at most 18 innings.