Aroldis Chapman is gonna be a setup man forever, I guess

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Danny Knobler has a column up today asking a question a lot of Reds fans have probably been asking themselves for some time: why in the heck is Aroldis Chapman still the Reds’ setup guy?

He hasn’t allowed a run all year. He has retired 22 of his last 24 hitters. He has a K/BB ratio of 34/5 in 19 and a third innings.  He’s simply dominant. And, given that he was a starter in Cuba and a starter in the Reds minor league system before being put in the pen last year, he should probably be given a chance to start, yes?  No, say the Reds. At least not yet:

“On our team right now, he should stay in the bullpen,” second baseman Brandon Phillips said. “We need someone in the bullpen like him” … [General Manager Walt] Jocketty doesn’t rule out Chapman in the rotation at some point this year, but he also said, “We may become resigned to the fact that he may spend this year in the bullpen.”

Walt: you run the team. How do you become “resigned” to this?  Dusty Baker is in the last year of his contract and you’re his boss.  There’s no way to force that issue here?

Yes, he’s an amazing relief pitcher. But Roy Halladay would be an amazing relief pitcher if you turned him into a setup man. As would every other good starter in baseball. Given that a starter pitches three times as many innings in a season as a setup man, you shouldn’t leave a guy like Chapman in the pen unless and until he shows you he can’t start.

And he can’t show you that until you give him a chance to try.

Astros talking to Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole about extensions

Justin Verlander
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It’s extension season and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros — who already agreed to an extension with Alex Bregman — are discussing contract extensions with Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole.

Funny thing about Verlander, by the way: when he got his current $180 million deal, most people fell into the “oh, there’s an overpay!” column. What’s more, this past winter, when everyone was talking about how bad it is to give guys big long term deals, Verlander’s name was notably absent in the conversation despite the fact that his deal has turned out to be quite good. I suppose that says something about how good the anti-long-term deal folks are at cherrypicking.

That being said, Rosenthal says “it would be an upset” if either Verlander or Cole signed extensions. I can see that. Verlander is locked up this year and has a vesting option for 2020, and a lot can happen in a year or two. Cole is a Scott Boras client and Boras clients tend to hit the market rather than sign extensions. Perhaps their former teammate, Dallas Keuchel‘s, terrible experience on the free agent market this winter will alter that calculus. Hard to say.