Aroldis Chapman was the best pitcher in all of baseball in 2014 when he pitched. He was better than Johnny Cueto. He was better than Craig Kimbrel. He was even better than Clayton Kershaw.
The reason why Chapman was the best pitcher in all of baseball in 2014 was his FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching), and SIERA (Skill Interactive ERA). As you may already know if you are a regular reader at Redleg Nation, FIP and SIERA are the two best ways to evaluating a pitcher because those statistics only include what a pitcher can actually control.
In 2014, Aroldis Chapman had a 0.89 FIP and 1.09 SIERA. The next best pitcher (minimum of 40 IP) in FIP was Wade Davis (1.09). The next best pitcher in SIERA was Andrew MIller (1.21). For even more comparison, Clayton Kershaw had a 1.81 FIP and 2.09 SIERA. Aroldis Chapman was one of only four pitchers in MLB history (since 1901) to have a FIP of 1.00 or less (min 40 IP).
Obviously a pitcher like Clayton Kershaw or Johnny Cueto who pitched around 200 innings is far more impressive than Aroldis Chapman, but the statement remains true: Aroldis Chapman was the best pitcher in all of baseball in 2014 when he pitched.
The problem is that is Aroldis Chapman only pitched 54.0 innings in 2014.
Chapman didn’t pitch until May 11th, because he was hit by a line drive in spring training last season. That did limit Chapman a bit, but he only averaged 14.2 innings per month. So even if Chapman was healthy all season, he would have only pitched around 68 innings. That quite simply is not enough for a guy who was the best pitcher in all of baseball last season when he pitched. That is absolutely wasting one of the greatest talents this game has ever seen.
So how can this be fixed? I think we have exhausted the notion that Aroldis Chapman should be a starter.Ã‚Â While that would clearly be the best way to use and maximize Chapman, it’s not going to happen. The next best thing would be to use Aroldis Chapman as a “super reliever,” meaning he could come in at any time of the game and pitch. That isn’t going to happen either. Fair or not, Price and Jocketty will demand that Chapman has to be saved for the 9th inning.
I have come up with a compromise, with the help of former MLB pitcher Carlos Guevara. Carlos came up in the Reds organization, and played with Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Homer Bailey, Sam LeCure, and Ryan Hanigan. Carlos knows about the workload that a MLB pitcher can handle. He told me that “Chapman could pitch two innings at a time, but he would just need a day off after two consecutive days.”
On that premise, I came up with a better way to use the Cuban Missle. Here are the rules:
Chapman pitches in the 8th inning of any game where the score is within two runs
Chapman can not pitch more than two consecutive days
Here were the results of my research (this would be assuming Chapman pitched the entire season):
Chapman would have pitched 140 innings in 2014.
Chapman would be unavailable 25 times in 2014.Ã‚Â
Chapman would be unavailable for save situations only 5 times in 2014.Ã‚Â
These results are certainly not a perfect science. 2015 could be significantly different in the amount of games that are within two runs going into the 8th inning. Chapman likely couldn’t jump from 54 innings to 140 innings in 2015. I do however think that this gives us decent basis of how the Reds could better use their incredible asset. This would also make the entire Reds bullpen better. By using Chapman in the 8th and 9th inning of close games, it limits the amount of high leverage situations that others guys have to pitch in. This is not the perfect usage of Aroldis Chapman, but it is a lot better than him only pitching 54 innings.
Maybe we will actually will see Chapman pitch more than one inning at a time in 2015. Chapman has pitched exactly 2.0 innings in each of his last four appearances this spring. We can only hope.