Reds won’t disclose how they’ll handle Aroldis Chapman’s workload as a starter

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The Reds are stretching out left-hander Aroldis Chapman this spring in preparation for moving him to the starting rotation. However, while the club plans to handle his workload responsibly, they aren’t willing to say much more.

According to Mark Sheldon of MLB.com, Reds pitching coach Bryan Price said today that the team doesn’t plan to disclose their plan for how many innings Chapman will throw as a starter.

“There is a pretty good understanding of what will be necessary to keep his innings at an area that we’re comfortable with, should he be a starter throughout the course of the season,” Prices said on Saturday. “That being said, I think if I’ve learned anything, I’ve learned it’s better to keep that stuff to ourselves. You just set the table for a little too much speculation and Q&A that I would not be comfortable going through.”

This is a different situation than what we saw with Stephen Strasburg last season, as Chapman is making the transition from the bullpen as opposed to pitching his first full season back from Tommy John surgery, but it’s easy to see how a firm number could become a distraction for a team which is expected to contend. No need to go there, especially since a lot of things can happen in spring training. Remember, Chapman was originally expected to begin last season in the starting rotation before Ryan Madson hurt his elbow and required Tommy John surgery.

Chapman posted a dominant 1.51 ERA, 38 saves and a 122/23 K/BB ratio over 71 2/3 innings last season. Jonathan Broxton is expected to take his place in the closer role this season.

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

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A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.