Cincinnati Reds Aroldis Chapman - to Start or Not to Start; That is the Question: Fan’s Take

There is no doubt about it - Cincinnati Reds pitcher Aroldis Chapman is a star.

Aroldis Chapman looks to take the field for the Cincinnati Reds this September to help the Reds chances for a strong playoff run
Wikimedia Commons

You don't see records in major league baseball broken very often, and when it does occur, there are usually weeks of hoopla and media coverage surrounding the highly anticipated event. With Aroldis Chapman, who throws the fastest pitch to ever the grace the plate, there is the chance he could break his own 105 mph record every time he takes the field. The question now is whether he is able to rise to the rank of a starting pitcher or will he remain in the bullpen assisting with the relief effort.

The Reds had the good fortune of signing the lefty Chapman in January 2010 just months after he defected from Cuba to a six year $30 million contract. Though Chapman's long-term goal was to eventually work his way into the starting rotation, he has been plagued by injury and so far has worked only as a relief pitcher for Cincinnati. But Chapman still managed to shine brightly in this role striking out 71 batters in 50 innings last season.

During the 2011 season Chapman spent six weeks on the disabled list with an inflamed left shoulder. He had hoped to stretch out his arm in the off season and work his way up to starting caliber in the Arizona Fall League and then in one of the Puerto Rican winter leagues, but due to shoulder soreness that did not happen.

Now entering spring training for the 2012 season, Aroldis Chapman again hopes to prove he has what it takes to start. The Reds could definitely benefit from his strength in the starting line-up. Though they have fortunately acquired Mat Latos to fill one spot, they were hit hard with injury early last season when both Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey succumbed to injury. Bronson Arroyo is considered by most to be a shoe-in for a place in the rotation, but if he doesn't improve on his dismal 9-12 with a 5.07 ERA from last year it doesn't bode well for blondie.

Dusty Baker has indicated that Chapman will indeed be given the opportunity to work his way into the starting rotation during spring training. Baker also leaves room for the possibility that Chapman could continue on with his role in the bullpen.

Additionally, Baker mentioned the possibility that they could send Chapman to Triple A in Louisville, assumingly to work on his potential as a starter. Given that this year could be the Reds big chance, with all three of their All Star hitters Joey Votto, Brandon Philips and Jay Bruce still on board, not utilizing an arm like Chapman's seems foolish. Sending a talent the level of Chapman to the minors would be like wearing Gucci to the Cracker Barrel.

Aroldis Chapman has the strongest arm the game of baseball has ever seen. When he takes the field, cameras flash, fans' hold their breath, and batters have been rumored to quake in their cleats. The only question now, hopefully, is whether Chapman will lend his talent to the starting rotation, or to the relief effort, as the Reds mount their charge for a stellar 2012 season.

Mark Sheldon, "Aroldis Chapman out to prove worth as starter," cincinnati.reds.mlb.com

"Reds' Chapman prepares for starting rotation," wcpo.com

John Fay, "Arroyo expects velocity to return," cincinnati.com

Lisa is a married mother of two living in the suburbs of Cincinnati. She is a long-time Reds fans yet was away at college when the 1990 Cincinnati Reds won the World Series and was not able to attend games or celebrate appropriately. She looks forward to the day when the Reds win it all again.

Other Articles by this Contributor:

Anticipating the 2012 Cincinnati Reds: Fan's Take

5 Reasons to Support the Cincinnati Reds in 2012

Pete Rose and the Hall of Fame: Top Five Reasons He Should Be In It

Cincinnati Bengals Cinderella Story: Fan's Take

Cincinnati Reds Poised for Success with Latos Acquisition: Fan's Take

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Updated Thursday, Feb 23, 2012