Danny Knobler has a column up today asking a question a lot of Reds fans have probably been asking themselves for some time: why in the heck is Aroldis Chapman still the Reds’ setup guy?
He hasn’t allowed a run all year. He has retired 22 of his last 24 hitters. He has a K/BB ratio of 34/5 in 19 and a third innings. He’s simply dominant. And, given that he was a starter in Cuba and a starter in the Reds minor league system before being put in the pen last year, he should probably be given a chance to start, yes? No, say the Reds. At least not yet:
“On our team right now, he should stay in the bullpen,” second baseman Brandon Phillips said. “We need someone in the bullpen like him” … [General Manager Walt] Jocketty doesn’t rule out Chapman in the rotation at some point this year, but he also said, “We may become resigned to the fact that he may spend this year in the bullpen.”
Walt: you run the team. How do you become “resigned” to this? Dusty Baker is in the last year of his contract and you’re his boss. There’s no way to force that issue here?
Yes, he’s an amazing relief pitcher. But Roy Halladay would be an amazing relief pitcher if you turned him into a setup man. As would every other good starter in baseball. Given that a starter pitches three times as many innings in a season as a setup man, you shouldn’t leave a guy like Chapman in the pen unless and until he shows you he can’t start.
And he can’t show you that until you give him a chance to try.
Following the Astros’ decisive 4-0 shutout over the Yankees on Saturday night, the team crowned ace Justin Verlander the Most Valuable Player of the American League Championship Series. Hall of Fame outfielder and former MLB manager Frank Robinson handed the award to Verlander, who was beaming as he thanked his teammates and members of the Astros’ organization.
“I’ve got to say, it came down to the wire, and one thing kept going off in my head was Dallas,” Verlander told the crowd gathered at Minute Maid Park. “When he called me, he said that I won’t regret my decision to join the Houston Astros. And here we are right now, it’s the best feeling in the world. We’ve got four more wins to win a World Series, and I do not regret my decision to come here. This is the best feeling a player can have. So, thank you.”
Among a cast that boasted the likes of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Dallas Keuchel, among others, Verlander was spectacular. He locked down a complete game win in Game 2, holding the Yankees to one run on five hits and a walk and striking out a postseason-high 13 batters. In Game 6, he saved the Astros from elimination with seven scoreless innings, helping propel the club to their eventual 7-1 finish that set up their series-clinching finale on Saturday.
The 34-year-old righty also took his place among some postseason greats. Thanks to an eight-strikeout outing on Friday night, his collective 136 postseason strikeouts are good for sixth-most in MLB playoff history, just a smidgen shy of Tom Glavine (143), Mike Mussina (145), Roger Clemens (173), Andy Pettitte (183) and John Smoltz (199). He also joined Bob Gibson, Curt Schilling and Sandy Koufax as one of just four hurlers to strike out 20+ Yankees in a postseason series.