Is Aroldis Chapman’s drop in velocity cause for concern?


Is Aroldis Chapman pitching hurt? Is he already being overworked? Cincinnati Reds catcher Ramon Hernandez seems to be concerned.

During the eighth inning of Wednesday’s 3-2 defeat to the San Diego Padres, Hernandez called pitching coach Bryan Price and trainer Paul Lessard to the mound after noticing the flamethrower’s velocity was way down.

This is what Hernandez told John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer:

“Yesterday, he threw what 93, 94″,” Hernandez said. “Then today, he’s throwing 91. He’s throws almost 100 over every pitch. Now, he can’t get up to 93. There’s got to be something. You can’t lose it in one day.”

A guy who threw a record 105-mph fastball last season suddenly unable to reach 93? Cue the alarm bells, right? Maybe not.

Chapman faced just two batters, allowing a walk and committing an error. He was removed after he recorded his lone out. But manager Dusty Baker said that was just a precaution, stating “he said he was OK, but that’s Cuban baseball.”

Hernandez also chalked it up to a young guy trying to be tough and pitch through pain and fatigue. He said he spoke to the 23-year-old pitcher, who was pitching for the fourth time in five days, and advised him that it can be better to miss a couple days then suffer an injury that puts him out of action for a longer stretch of time.

“He’s got a lot of stress …,” Hernandez told Fay, “I think he’s going to be OK.”

Reds fans certainly hope so.

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Jharel Cotton to undergo Tommy John surgery

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Athletics right-hander Jharel Cotton will undergo Tommy John surgery, per an announcement on Saturday. Cotton initially experienced some elbow soreness during a Cactus League start earlier this week and was officially diagnosed with a strained ulnar collateral ligament and strained flexor muscle on Thursday. He’ll be out of commission until 2019 at the earliest.

This isn’t the first time Cotton has dealt with elbow issues. According to’s Jane Lee, he had screws inserted in his right elbow after sustaining a stress fracture in 2013 and suffered some minor elbow discomfort again last fall. Prior to his diagnosis, the 24-year-old was poised for his third run with the A’s in 2018. He pitched his first full season with the club in 2017, turning in a 5.58 ERA, 3.7 BB/9 and 7.3 SO/9 in 24 starts and 129 innings.

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle adds that the team is open to adding pitching depth this spring, though they’ll wait to see if the price goes down on some free agents first. Barring that, right-handed long reliever Andrew Triggs could be tabbed to fill the fifth spot in the rotation.