Nothing is official yet, but every indication is that the Reds will move Aroldis Chapman into the rotation after signing Jonathan Broxton to a three-year, $21 million deal to replace him as closer.
John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes as if it might as well be official, saying “this means Chapman’s going to start” and speculating that the 24-year-old left-hander will be allowed to throw around 180 innings after totaling 72 in 2012.
That’s a big jump, but it’s important to note that Chapman was initially viewed as a starter in the minors before shifting to the bullpen in preparation for his call-up in 2010. That year–which was his first in the United States after defecting from Cuba–he threw a total of 109 innings between Triple-A and the majors.
This year was a mixed bag for young pitchers moving from the bullpen to the rotation, as Chris Sale thrived, Daniel Bard struggled, and Neftali Feliz got injured, but seeing what Chapman can do in a 180-inning role before locking him into a 70-inning role for the rest of his career makes an awful lot of sense.
The Braves clinched a postseason berth with Saturday’s 10-1 win over the Nationals. Now, the only question is whether they’ll get there with an NL East division title or via one of two wild card spots currently up for grabs.
Granted, things are looking pretty good on the division title front. After losing their second straight game to the Braves, the Nationals sit 10.5 games back of first place in the NL East, and every other division rival is at least 15 games out. The Braves, meanwhile, carry a magic number of four; should they clinch, it’ll be their 19th franchise title and 14th since they migrated to the East division in 1994.
They certainly looked like postseason contenders on Saturday. Mike Foltynewicz led the charge with six innings of one-run, five-strikeout ball, limiting the Nationals to four hits while rookie right-hander Austin Voth kept the Braves scoreless through 5 2/3 frames. Things started to tip in Atlanta’s favor in the sixth inning: Nick Markakis put the team on the board with an RBI single, and a four-run breakout in the seventh helped cement a sizable lead. Over the last three innings, the Braves found opportunity after opportunity against the Nationals’ bullpen, capitalizing on walks, throwing errors, and productive outs as they climbed toward a double-digit finish.
The win didn’t come without some sacrifice, however. The Braves lost Charlie Culberson to a facial injury after he was struck by a Fernando Rodney fastball in the seventh inning, and they’ll likely be without him for the remainder of the regular season — pending a formal diagnosis, of course. Culberson’s loss isn’t the only one the club is feeling right now, either, as Johan Camargo ended his season with a hairline fracture in his right shin and Freddie Freeman is playing through a minor bout of elbow soreness after making an early exit from Friday’s 5-0 shutout.