Monday, May 21, 2012

Schoenfield: Moving Chapman to closer won't help Reds win more games

The Cuban Missile has been effective in every role
the Reds have given him in 2012
Dusty Baker's decision to oust Sean Marshall and insert Aroldis Chapman into the closer role has ignited a plethora of outside opinion -- and rightfully so. Chapman is one of the more intriguing players in the game today and any move of this magnitude is sure to cause a stir. And although the way to handle the left-hander is an on-going dilemma, it's a good dilemma nevertheless. At least he's excelling in every role given to him. However, will he help the squad win more games in his latest one?

Here's an excerpt of what ESPN.com's David Schoenfield had to say about the situation on his SweetSpot blog on Monday:

Sean Marshall actually hadn't pitched that poorly for the Reds, not with 22 strikeouts and three walks in 14.2 innings. But he'd allowed 22 hits thanks to an unlucky .488 BABIP, so Dusty Baker made the move: Aroldis Chapman is in as the team's closer. He picked up his first save of 2012, closing out the Reds' 5-2 victory over the Yankees. I don't have any major issues with the move, but let's see how Baker handles Chapman. Will he extend him past one inning on occasion? (Four of his previous relief outings had been two innings.) The problem with making your best reliever your designated closer can be seen in Sunday's usage. Leading 3-2 in the eighth, Baker used Marshall and Logan Ondrusek. Leading 5-2 in the ninth, Baker used Chapman. The biggest out of the game was Marshall retiring Robinson Cano with a runner on and no outs in the eighth, while Chapman faced the bottom of the lineup. So while Chapman will get the saves, this move probably has little bearing on the Reds' W-L record.

Before you grab a pitchfork and head towards Schoenfield's office, just know that his reasoning is actually pretty good. Marshall was by no means pitching so poorly that he was costing the team wins, but that's not to say he didn't dodge a few bullets here and there. Baker decided to make the change before it got to that point.

And as he also pointed out, it's not like Chapman wasn't already recording big outs in the later innings. While there's nothing like the pressure of getting the final three outs, recording outs in the seventh and the eighth can be just as difficult and certainly just as important. If the Reds really want to help their chances at winning more games over the long-run, moving Chapman to the rotation is the answer. Unfortunately, the injuries to Bill Bray, Nick Masset and Ryan Madson have handcuffed the team's ability to do that...for now at least.

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