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 Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”
Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”
The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.