Aroldis Chapman had his big workout this morning. Scouts from 15 teams showed up to watch him pitch two five-minute bullpen sessions. According to Jorge Arangure, he threw in the 92-93 mph range for the most part and and topped out at 96.
The Twittersphere is complaining about his velocity this afternoon, but it’s probably worth noting that (a) the much repeated “100 mph” stuff about Chapman is based on a single radar reading from the WBC and could have been a fluke; (b) Chapman is still a lanky 21, and could easily add some velocity once he is farther into a workout regime superior to that he saw in Cuba; and (c) even if he tops out at 96 mph for the rest of his career, that would make him the hardest throwing lefty starter in the majors.
No, the real question isn’t the gun, it’s the control. No word from Arangure about that, though it’s probably hard to really gauge control in a bullpen session. He’s being referred to this afternoon as “a tremendous talent.” Someone in that same article compared him to Brien Taylor. I think it was meant as a compliment, but jeez, Brien Taylor? FanHouse’s Ed Price heard from someone who was there who said “he’s got the package.” I’m not sure what that means and wonder if the person who said that really does either. Everyone talked about his arm, but we all knew he had a good arm. The question is whether he can pitch.
The next question is if any of the teams in attendance — which included the Yankees, Orioles, Reds, Nats, Royals, Phillies, Cubs, Rangers, Mariners, Red Sox, Astros, Angels, Marlins and Pirates — are going to top the Sox’ offer of $15.5 million.
The Cardinals went from winning 100 games last season to 82 entering Wednesday evening’s game, and they might not even make the playoffs. Still, the organization will bring back manager Mike Matheny for the 2017 season, Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
Owner Bill DeWitt, Jr. said, “Mike’s done a really good job for us. There’s no thought that we’re going to go in any different direction.”
GM John Mozeliak also expressed his support, saying, “Mike takes a lot of heat, and I’ve defended him and I will continue to. I really feel like some of the things that we’re dealing with aren’t fair to put on the manager.”
Mozeliak continued, “I do feel like all of us are always held accountable for what we do here, so there’s nobody excluded from that. But having said that, I don’t look at him as someone that we are where we are because of that.”
Matheny has received criticism for his bullpen usage, but the Cardinals have only 15 blown saves as a team, the fourth-lowest total in baseball this season.
The Phillies’ bullpen led to yet another loss on Tuesday. Severino Gonzalez, Luis Garcia, Joely Rodriguez, and David Hernandez combined to allow six runs in five innings, allowing the Braves to come back and win 7-6 after falling behind 6-0 after the first two innings.
The game prior, the Phillies’ bullpen surrendered 14 runs in four innings in a 17-0 loss to the Mets. The game before that, the bullpen yielded four runs in four innings, nearly squandering the Phillies’ 10-0 lead after four innings. And last Thursday, the Phillies had taken an 8-6 lead in the top of the 11th, but Edubray Ramos served up a walk-off three-run home run to Asdrubal Cabrera. It’s been a tough month.
Manager Pete Mackanin ripped the bullpen when speaking to the media after Tuesday’s game. Via Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly:
Neris was going to close for us. I thought about using him with two outs in the eighth. But, at some point, somebody else has to do a (bleeping) job. Somebody else has to (bleeping) step up. In two games now, every reliever I brought in has given up a (bleeping) run. That’s unheard of.
The Phillies currently own the fourth-worst bullpen ERA in baseball at 4.97. Only the Rockies (5.12), Reds (5.07), and Diamondbacks (4.98) have been worse.
In fairness to the bullpen, aside from Jeanmar Gomez (who lost his job as closer earlier this month) and free agent signee David Hernandez, the bullpen is intentionally comprised of young, inexperienced pitchers as the Phillies are still rebuilding. If the Phillies were aiming for a playoff spot, it would be one thing, but the struggles are to be expected when one throws 24-year-olds into the deep end.