Reds sending Aroldis Chapman to winter ball to work as a starter

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Aroldis Chapman has pitched exclusively out of the bullpen since debuting with Cincinnati in August of last season, but the Reds are now sending the flamethrowing left-hander to winter ball in order to build up arm strength to join the rotation next year.

John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Chapman will stretch out with some instructional league action before heading to Puerto Rico, with general manager Walt Jocketty explaining that “eventually we’ll get him up to five innings.”

Chapman initially started at Triple-A last season, but then shifted to the bullpen in preparation for a call-up to the majors. His upside as a starter is obviously huge, but given his problems consistently throwing strikes in short appearances there’s plenty of doubt about how his control will fare in a 200-inning role.

He’s logged 63 innings in 69 total appearances for the Reds, with a 3.27 ERA,  90/46 K/BB ratio, and .158 opponents’ batting average. Presumably the need to pace himself as a starter will mean many fewer triple-digit radar gun readings for Chapman, but if the Reds think he has a chance to be a top-of-the-rotation starter it certainly makes sense to give him a shot at age 24.

Watch: Brian McCann’s incredible tag nails Greg Bird at home plate

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Things got a little wild in the fifth inning of Game 7 of the ALCS on Saturday. With one out and runners at the corners, Astros’ right-hander Charlie Morton fired a 1-1 fastball to Todd Frazier. Frazier returned the ball to third baseman Alex Bregman, who tossed a perfect throw over to Brian McCann at the plate just as Greg Bird came charging home. McCann’s setup was flawless, nailing Bird as he slid into the plate and nullifying the Yankees’ first real attempt to get on the board.

That’s as close as the Yankees have come to scoring so far. The Astros took an early 1-0 lead with Evan Gattis‘ 405-footer off of CC Sabathia in the top of the fourth inning. Jose Altuve chimed in with an opposite-field solo shot in the fifth, while McCann followed his lead-preserving tag with an equally jaw-dropping two-out, two-RBI double. Houston currently leads 4-0 in the bottom of the fifth.