January 15, 2013
The Keeper Reaper
Relievers for 1/15/13
Aroldis Chapman | Reds
Sure, the Reds are saying Chapman will transition from the bullpen (where he was a dominant closer last season) to the starting rotation in 2013. For fantasy purposes, however, it’s hardly that simple. As my colleague Paul Sporer explains, the jump from the ‘pen to the rotation can be a sticky wicket. In Chapman’s case, one has to wonder how his stuff will translate—diminished velocity is likely, as is a loss of some of the all-important control he discovered last season. Not to mention, we don’t know whether his golden left arm can handle the spike in workload; remember that he missed a couple weeks late in 2012 due to a tired pitching shoulder.
The Reds are wise to see if Chapman can handle starting every fifth day, but I’m something of a wet blanket as to how it’ll actually turn out. I think Chapmania will be back in the bullpen by midseason, whether it be because of ineffectiveness, difficulty adjusting to the physical demands of starting, or perhaps both. While it’s tempting to project a Chris Sale-like transition for Chapman based on his absurd talent, that sort of best-case scenario tends to be the exception rather than the rule for relievers-turned-starters.
All of that said, Chapman is still a very strong keeper candidate based solely on his upside. While risk-averse owners may be nervous about his prospects as a starter, his strikeout rate in that role should be among the league’s best, making him ownable in all formats even if his ratios get wonky. Of course, we’ve already seen what Chapman can do as a reliever, and though we can’t be sure of how he’d be used if he were to return to the ‘pen, I’d bet on him getting the closing gig back.
Jonathan Broxton | Reds
I admit to having been hugely skeptical of Broxton throughout 2012, even as he racked up saves first for the Royals and then a few for the Reds. The peripherals were ugly, which suggested a booming correction was looming, but the slump never really arrived. As our own R.J. Anderson wrote recently, Brox became something of a different, better pitcher as the season wore on, adjusting capably from life as a flame-thrower to a guy with a more nuanced repertoire. The Reds saw enough that they felt comfortable signing the right-hander to a three-year extension, a relative coup for a reliever who missed most of 2011 due to various ailments.