Now that veteran left-hander Arthur Rhodes has officially signed with the Rangers, Reds general manager Walt Jocketty told Mark Sheldon of MLB.com that Aroldis Chapman will likely remain in the bullpen for 2011.
“I would think so, yeah,” Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said. “The plans are to keep Chapman in the bullpen right now. We’ll take a long look at Dontrelle Willis also.”
Jocketty said that he doesn’t plan to look outside the organization in order to fill the top left-handed reliever role, so while Willis, Bill Bray, Matt Maloney and Daniel Ray Herrera may also get auditions, Chapman should be considered the favorite.
Of course, the fireballing southpaw could provide much more value to the Reds as a starting pitcher, but he’s unlikely to get that chance, at least in the short-term, especially after he posted a 4.11 ERA and 76/40 K/BB ratio in 13 starts with Triple-A Louisville last season. He found his comfort zone after converting to a reliever down the stretch, first putting up a 2.40 ERA and a ridiculous 49/12 K/BB ratio over 30 innings with Louisville and then a 2.03 ERA and 19/5 K/BB ratio over 13 1/3 innings in his first taste of the big leagues.
I know what you’re thinking. Why are the Reds paying all this money for a left-handed specialist? They could have traded for Oliver Perez, for goodness sakes. Well, in case you didn’t notice, Francisco Cordero hasn’t looked like an elite closer lately, seeing his strikeout rate decline and his walk rate go up over each of the last three seasons. I wouldn’t be shocked in the least if Chapman (or Nick Masset) begins to close games if Cordero shows more signs of decline early on in the year. Just something to keep an eye on.
The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.
Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).
A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.
The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:
A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.
Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.
The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.
Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.