The Reds are making Aroldis Chapman their closer

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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.

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UPDATE, 11:38 AM: It’s official, according to Fay: Chapman is the Reds’ new closer.

Hunter Pence is mashing for the Rangers

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Hunter Pence was thought to be on his way to retirement after a lackluster 2018 season with the Giants. As he entered his mid-30’s, Pence spent a considerable amount of time on the injured list, playing in 389 out of 648 possible regular season games with the Giants from 2015-18.

Pence, however, kept his career going, inking a minor league deal with the Rangers in February. He performed very well in spring training, earning a spot on the Opening Day roster. Pence hasn’t stopped hitting.

Entering Monday night’s game against the Mariners, Pence was batting .299/.358/.619 with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 109 plate appearances, mostly as a DH. Statcast agrees that Pence has been mashing the ball. He has an average exit velocity of 93.3 MPH this season, which would obliterate his marks in each of the previous four seasons since Statcast became a thing. His career average exit velocity is 89.8 MPH. He has “barreled” the ball 10.4 percent of the time, well above his 6.2 percent average.

What Pence did to a baseball in the seventh inning of Monday’s game, then, shouldn’t come as a surprise.

That’s No. 9 on the year for Pence. Statcast measured it at 449 feet and 108.3 MPH off the bat. Not only is Pence not retired, he may be a lucrative trade chip for the Rangers leading up to the trade deadline at the end of July.