Sunday, May 20, 2012

Chapman A Closer? Only On These Terms

So it's painfully obvious that Sean Marshall is not the man the Reds should be trusting in the ninth inning.  It's also painfully obvious that if Aroldis Chapman is not going to be in the starting rotation then he is going to be the best relief pitcher in baseball.  But if Dusty Baker insists on making him a closer, he better make him a non-traditional closer.  By that I mean not saving him every game until the ninth inning.  Continue to use Chapman in the most critical junctures of the final three innings.  He is the fireman, he is the hammer, he is the man to snuff out rallies and put teams in a sleeper-hold.  If Chapman is only going to come into games when the Reds have a lead in the ninth inning, then it is a waste of talent.  I've never seen the complete value of having your best relief pitcher only come into a game when you have a lead in the ninth inning.  What if there is a situation in the eighth inning where you have two men on and one out, and you are nursing a one run lead?  Shouldn't your top dog be in the game to put out that fire?  That's how it used to be when they called the top relief pitchers firemen.  Now most, if not all, managers, Baker included, save that guy until the ninth inning and the team has a lead of three runs or less.  Occasionally they dip into the closer when it is a tie game in the ninth, but rarely if ever to put out fires in the eighth.  And in the seventh?  Are you out of your mind Sparky?  Why, a closer come in a snuff out a rally that early?  The book doesn't call for that anymore.  With a guy named Chapman in the bullpen the book should call for that.  Aroldis can finish some games, but if there is trouble in the seventh or eighth, call him to the mound to get past the trouble.  Dusty needs to buck the trend, step outside the safety net of current managerial protocol, and make the kind of call that will benefit the Reds the most.  Chapman can close, but only if there aren't other fires along the way.  And if he has to pitch the eighth and the ninth, so what?  Let the big man, the best relief pitcher in baseball,  have at it. 

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