Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman has pitched with astounding success all year, but lately he just hasn't seemed himself. As the Reds approach the post season, they have made the decision to give Aroldis Chapman's precious arm a bit of rest . . . for now.
Before the season began many thought Aroldis Chapman would be in the starting rotation, but due to injures to relief pitchers Bill Bray, Nick Masset, and supposed closer Ryan Madson; it was clear Chapman's talents were needed elsewhere. The year began with Sean Marshall as the closer, but after some shaky appearances the job was handed over to Chapman. To the delight of Cincinnati Reds fans everywhere, it seemed the role he was destined to take on.
With the exception of a hiccup in his performance in June, Aroldis Chapman has been brilliant. He has 35 saves under his belt, an ERA of 1.60 and a whopping 119 strike outs in less than 63 innings. Cincinnati Reds fans love Joey Votto, but there is nobody on the team that brings the crowd to their feet like Aroldis Chapman as he strolls to the mound in the ninth inning.
However Aroldis Chapman has struggled a bit lately. Last week when the Reds took on the Houston Astros Chapman uncharacteristically gave up a home run in the final inning, causing the Reds the game. As the ball exited the park, Chapman crouched down, head bowed.
The crowd was eerily silent. They knew he had likely lost the game for the team, but nobody would dare boo Aroldis Chapman. He has been our rock, and everyone makes mistakes sometimes. You had to feel sorry for him as he looked so defeated and disappointed in himself. I'm probably not the only one who wanted to give him a pat on the back and tell him it was okay.
When Aroldis Chapman entered the game on Monday, the speed we've come to expect from his signature fastball was down, and he walked his first two batters. Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker took Chapman out of the game in the middle of the inning for the first time all season.
And so Aroldis Chapman, and his amazing arm, are going to take a bit of a break. Chapman has said he feels no pain and is confident his lack of accuracy and speed lately are based solely on fatigue. It seems logical that you can only throw a ball 100 plus miles per hour so many times before a little exhaustion sets in.
The Cincinnati Reds are fortunate to be in a position where they can likely afford to go without Aroldis Chapman for a bit. Though the team as a whole has not been at its best as of late, the second place St. Louis Cardinals continue to drop games and the Reds are hoping to pull off a sweep of the third place Pittsburgh Pirates this evening. With the end of the regular season just around the corner, the Cincinnati Reds have a 10.5 game lead on the Cardinals, and a magic number of 10.
Aroldis Chapman doesn't give interviews very often as he is still working on his English and uses a translator; but you don't have to hear him speak to know how committed he is to success. Every movement of his body and expression on his face portray his intensity and desire to be the best. So he will rest for a while, and then he will come back, stronger, ready to bring Reds fans to their feet again.Major League Baseball stats, reds.com
Mark Clements, "Reds monitoring fatigue in Chapman's left arm," reds.com
Lisa Stewart 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.
Follow Lisa on Twitter: @lisa0606
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