One would never know Aroldis Chapman was pitching for the third straight day for the first time in two years Sunday.
The Cuban left-hander fanned all three Cardinals he faced to protect a 4-2 lead in the ninth as the Reds completed their sweep tonight. Chapman pitched in all three games, striking out eight and allowing just one hit in three scoreless innings.
Chapman now has 79 strikeouts in 42 1/3 innings for the year. It would be the highest strikeout rate ever for a season of at least 40 innings. Here’s the top 10 in K/9 IP:
16.80 – Chapman (2012 Reds) – 79 K in 42.1 IP
16.10 – Kenley Jansen (2011 Dodgers) – 96 K in 53.2 IP
15.99 – Carlos Marmol (2010 Cubs): – 138 K in 77.2 IP
14.98 – Eric Gagne (2003 Dodgers): – 137 K in 82.1 IP
14.95 – Billy Wagner (1999 Astros): 124 K in 74.2 IP
14.93 – Brad Lidge (2004 Astros): 157 K in 94.2 IP
14.84 – Craig Kimbrel (2011 Braves): 127 K in 77 IP
14.77 – Armando Benitez (1999 Mets): 128 K in 78 IP
14.55 – Billy Wagner (1998 Astros): 97 K in 60 IP
14.38 – Billy Wagner (1997 Astros): 106 K in 66.1 IP
No starters on that list, obviously. The top K rate ever for a starting pitcher was Randy Johnson at 13.41 with the Diamondbacks in 2001 (372 K in 249.2 IP).
Chapman blew back-to-back save opportunities for the Reds on June 19 & 24, but he’s been on an incredible tear since, allowing just two hits in seven scoreless innings. 19 of his 21 outs during the span have come on strikeouts.
Not all players coming in to spring training are in The Best Shapes of Their Lives. Some have put on a few pounds, such as Miguel Sano, notes Twins GM Thad Levine:
Sano has been given medical clearance to engage in all baseball workouts with his teammates, his surgically reinforced left shin now completely healed, though the Twins intend to lighten his schedule to prevent any new injuries.
They’d like to lighten something else, too: His “generous carriage,” as General Manager Thad Levine delicately put it last week. Sano’s conditioning understandably lags, after a winter largely spent incapacitated by the surgery.
Sano’s conditioning has often been a topic of conversation among the members of the Minnesota press corps, though not always in good faith. For example, last year when Sano injured his shin by fouling a ball off of it, one member of the The Fourth Estate found a way to make a column out of blaming the freak injury on Sano’s conditioning. At least in this instance his colleague is correctly noting that the poor conditioning is a result of the injury and not the cause.
Still, it’s just another issue facing Sano this spring. He’s out of shape, coming off of an injury, and — not that he’s due any sympathy for it — he’s facing a likely suspension arising out of the allegations of sexual assault leveled against him late last year.
So this spring we’ll be seeing more of Sano, it seems. At least until that time we’ll be seeing less of him.