Not in the pen yet, Aroldis Chapman goes five innings for Reds

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When the Reds said Ryan Madson needed Tommy John surgery, ruling him out for the season, all indications were that Aroldis Chapman was headed back to the pen to help out in the seventh and eighth innings. Yet the 24-year-old Cuban defector made another start Thursday, allowing two runs in five innings against the Brewers.

Facing something close to Milwaukee’s regular lineup, Chapman struck out six and walked none. Obviously, control is the big issue for him as a potential starter — he walked 41 in 50 innings out of the pen last season — but he’s been great this spring, amassing an 18/2 K/BB ratio in 17 innings of work.

The Reds may still figure they’re better off with Chapman in the pen and Homer Bailey in the rotation, and given Bailey’s ever improving peripherals, they might be right. Still, if Chapman can keep his walk rate down, he’d likely be a dynamic starting pitcher. It’d be nice to see what he can do in that role next month, considering that he can always be sent back to the pen later. It’s not quite so easy going the other way.

Brandon Belt, Jaime Barrios set new modern record with 21-pitch at-bat

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Angels starter Jaime Barrios and Giants first baseman Brandon Belt set a new modern record with a 21-pitch at-bat in the first inning of Sunday afternoon’s game in Anaheim. Belt fell behind 1-2 and mostly kept fouling pitches off. The count ran full on the ninth pitch and Belt would foul off 11 more pitches before finally lining out to right field.

As Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle notes, the previous record was set on June 26, 1998 when the Indians’ Bartolo Colon and the Astros’ Ricky Gutierrez battled for 20 pitches. Gutierrez eventually struck out.