On Wednesday night, a spring game between the Reds and Royals ended in basically the worst possible way. Cincinnati closer Aroldis Chapman fired a 99 mph fastball toward the plate in the sixth, and Salvador Perez ripped it back up the middle. Perez's liner struck Chapman in the face, dropping the pitcher, creating one of the more terrifying moments you're likely to see in your life as a fan.
Chapman apparently never lost consciousness, though he suffered fractures above his nose and left eye. Brutal news, awful scene. Chapman was stretchered off the field, the game was called, and the pitcher was hospitalized overnight. Let's hope for the best, a quick and full recovery.
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Without question, Chapman is one of baseball's most dominant closers, an upper-tier fantasy asset. He's struck out 234 batters in just 135.1 innings over the past two seasons, which is ... well, it's insane. He cannot be replaced with a reliever of comparable quality, because few exist.
JJ Hoover could get a shot at closing duties for Cincy, although he's had a rough spring (4.0 IP, 6 H, 5 BB, 1 K). Jonathan Broxton is in the mix as well, and he just threw a clean inning on Monday in his Cactus League debut. Or the Reds may throw a committee at the ninth.
But again, let's hope Chapman gets back in the game as soon as possible. He's a rare talent, a thrill to watch, a pleasure to own in our game. Get well, Missile.