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 Yankees signed first-round draft pick Clarke Schmidt and second-round pick Matt Sauer on Saturday, per a team announcement. Schmidt, a right-hander from the University of South Carolina, is set to earn a signing bonus of $2,184,300. According to MLB.com’s Oliver Macklin, that’s much lower than the typical $3+ million allocated for a No. 16 overall pick. The opposite is true for Sauer, whose projected $2.5 million signing bonus tops the suggested $1.2 million reserved for a No. 54 pick.
Schmidt, 21, boasts an impressive four-pitch repertoire and profiles as a front-end or mid-rotation starter, according to reports from Yankees’ VP of Domestic Amateur Scouting Damon Oppenheimer and ESPN’s Keith Law, among others. He carried a 4-2 record through nine starts in 2017 and turned in a 1.34 ERA before undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery last month to repair a torn UCL in his right elbow. While the Yankees won’t see him pitch at any level until late 2018, they seem confident in his makeup and ability to rebound over the next couple of years.
Fellow right-hander and Righetti High School senior Matt Sauer is a different story altogether. The 18-year-old hurler appears destined for the bullpen with a polished fastball-slider combo and a promising curveball and changeup. He dazzled on the mound this year, going 9-1 with an 0.98 ERA and two shutouts over 78 1/3 innings. While the Yankees seem most interested in his pitching skills, Sauer showed some pop at the plate as well, touting a .427 average with 24 RBI through 135 plate appearances.
The Athletics followed Friday’s 3-0 shutout with a rookie-led home run derby on Saturday afternoon, watching not one, not two, but three rookies belt their first major league home runs off of the White Sox’ James Shields.
Right fielder Matt Olson was the first to strike, taking Shields deep on a first-pitch, two-run blast in the first inning for his first home run in 49 major league plate appearances:
Fellow outfielder Jaycob Brugman duplicated his teammate’s results in the second inning with a solo home run, his first extra-base hit of any kind since he made his debut on June 9:
In the third, with a comfortable 4-0 lead backing two scoreless frames from Oakland right-hander Daniel Gossett, Franklin Barreto took his shot at Shields. After getting the call several hours prior to Saturday’s game, he became the fastest of the three rookies to record his first big league homer, going yard on a 2-2 changeup and driving in Bruce Maxwell to give the A’s a six-run advantage.
The Athletics currently lead the White Sox 8-2 in the top of the sixth inning.