Reds plan to keep Aroldis Chapman in the bullpen

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Now that veteran left-hander Arthur Rhodes has officially signed with the Rangers, Reds general manager Walt Jocketty told Mark Sheldon of 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.

Madison Bumgarner diagnosed with fractured left hand

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Giants ace left-hander Madison Bumgarner sustained a displaced fracture of the fifth metacarpal of his left hand on Friday. He’ll undergo surgery on Saturday to insert pins in his pinky knuckle, a procedure that could require a four- to six-week recovery period before he’s cleared to throw again. According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, Bumgarner’s total recovery time is expected to take 6-8 weeks. In a best-case scenario, the lefty said he should be able to pitch again before the All-Star break, but given the amount of time and care it’ll take for him to shoulder a full workload, it’s unclear whether he’ll be able to do so.

Bumgarner suffered the fracture during the third inning of Friday’s Cactus League game against the Royals. Whit Merrifield returned a line drive up the middle and the ball deflected off the top of Bumgarner’s pitching hand before bouncing into the infield. He chased after the ball but was unable to pick it up, and was immediately visited by manager Bruce Bochy and a team trainer before exiting the game.

The 28-year-old southpaw was gearing up for a massive comeback after losing significant playing time with an injury in 2017. During his tumultuous run with the Giants last year, he missed nearly three months on the disabled list after spraining his shoulder and bruising his ribs in a dirt bike accident. He finished the season with a 4-9 record in 17 starts and a 3.32 ERA (his first 3.00+ ERA since 2012), 1.6 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 over 111 innings. Without him, the Giants suffered as well; by season’s end, their pitching staff ranked seventh-worst in the National League with a cumulative 4.58 ERA and 10.1 fWAR.

This is the second massive injury the Giants’ rotation has sustained this week after right-hander Jeff Samardzija was diagnosed with a strained pectoral muscle on Thursday. “Horrible news for us,” Bochy told reporters after Friday’s game. “That’s all you can say about it. There’s nothing you can do but push on.”