Sean Marshall has surrendered 22 hits and eight earned runs in 14 1/3 innings this year, struggling to solidify the Reds’ ninth-inning role. So changes are being considered at the end of the Cincinnati ‘pen.
According to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Reds manager Dusty Baker spoke Saturday “about switching Aroldis Chapman into the closer’s role,” and pushing Marshall back into setup duty — something he’s far more familiar with.
“[Chapman] has been so good in the eighth,” Baker told reporters after Saturday’s 6-5 victory over the Yankees. “Like I said, you’ve got to graduate to that position. Who knows maybe graduation time is here? We’re got to discuss it, talk about it. Matter of fact, we already talked to him about it. … We had to revamp and come up with a Plan B. So we’ll see about Plan C.”
If Chapman starts locking down saves — which he’s completely capable of — and becomes the Reds’ regular closer, you’d have to think Baker and Co. might just run with with the strategy. Which would, unfortunately, push the 24-year-old Cuban left-hander further away from the rotation spot where he belongs.
Chapman hasn’t allowed an earned run in 17 relief appearances this season and boasts a 38/7 K/BB ratio in 21 1/3 innings. He’s one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball and has experience with starting, and yet the Reds won’t maximize his value. It’s simple math. Justin Verlander has already pitched over 67 innings.
UPDATE, 11:38 AM: It’s official, according to Fay: Chapman is the Reds’ new closer.
The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.
Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.
Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.
As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.
Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.
Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.