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The Wednesday Takeaway
Johnny Cueto tossed seven shutout innings in the Reds’ 2-1 victory over the Brewers yesterday afternoon. Zack Greinke one-upped him by blanking the visitors for eight innings at Miller Park while allowing just two hits, striking out 11, and walking none. Yet, by the time the two hour, 49-minute contest was over, the most dominant pitcher to appear might not have been either of the starters.

With the game still scoreless, Aroldis Chapman entered for the Reds firing high-90s fastballs and filthy sliders. He whiffed pinch-hitter Brooks Conrad, induced a ground ball from Nyjer Morgan, and then blew a 101 mph heater past Rickie Weeks. After the Cincinnati offense got to John Axford in the top of the ninth, Chapman was rewarded with his third win of the season.

The Reds may eventually move Chapman into their starting rotation, but the 23-year-old’s emergence as arguably the best reliever in the National League is making the decision increasingly difficult for Walt Jocketty and Dusty Baker. Chapman has now made 13 appearances and pitched 15 2/3 innings this year without surrendering a run. He has given up just five hits, four walks, and a hit batsman. And, meanwhile, he’s recorded an absurd 27 strikeouts.

As Buster Olney tweeted after Chapman’s outing, the lefty has picked up at least one strikeout in each of his 13 trips to the mound this season. The record for the longest such streak to begin a season belongs to a former Reds reliever: the aptly-named southpaw Billy McCool, who went 25 consecutive appearances without failing to strike out a batter beginning on April 18, 1965.

Cincinnati’s win over Milwaukee was also the 1,500th of Dusty Baker’s managerial career.

What to Watch for on Thursday

  • The Rangers have a history of running up the score on the Orioles in doubleheaders at Camden Yards—dropping 30 runs on the home team on August 22, 2007 and routing the hosts 13-1 on April 9 of last year—and they will try to maintain that trend this afternoon after Wednesday night’s game was washed out. Game one of the true twin bill will be played at 4:05 p.m. ET, with Colby Lewis taking on Wei-Yin Chen. Derek Holland will oppose former Ranger Tommy Hunter in the nightcap.
  • Stephen Strasburg has not faced the Pirates since his electrifying major-league debut on June 8, 2010, but he’ll finally get a chance to deliver an encore tonight (7:05 p.m. ET). In his first big-league start, Strasburg tossed seven innings of two-run ball, fanning 14 batters without issuing a walk. Of the five Pirates who notched hits against Strasburg in that game, only Neil Walker remains on Pittsburgh’s roster.
  • The Red Sox return home for a four-game series with the Indians tonight (7:10 p.m. ET), but Fenway Park will never be the same. Carl Beane—the public address announcer whose voice welcomed ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls to America’s most beloved ballpark since 2003—died yesterday in a single-car crash after suffering a heart attack. Our thoughts go out to Beane’s family, the Red Sox organization, and all of the fans that came to appreciate Beane as the voice of Fenway or much more.
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Hatfield
5/10
Oh how I wish my name were Billy McCool.
biteme
5/10
The Reds are not extracting maximum value from Chapman's dominance. Using him as a middle reliever is criminal. How can things so patently obvious not be understood by so-called "baseball men?" They stretched him out in Spring Training, paid lip service to making him a starter then began treating him like their red-headed stepchild. Why?Which is better, 150-200 innings of Chapman or 70 innings of Chapman?
chabels
5/10
I'd say that 70-100 innings of high leverage Chapman is better than either 150+ innings of starter Chapman (assuming he can handle the workload). The real issue is whether Baker is using Chapman well out of the pen (ie getting him into high leverage situations). Jay Jaffe's piece on Charlie Manuel's misuse of Papelbon shows how a manager could find the most value from Chapman using him out of the pen (and not necessarily as a "closer"). Oh, also he's only 23, so it's not like he's condemned to a lifetime of middle relief now. And do you really to put Dusty Baker in charge of Chapman's long-term future as a starter?
aaronbailey52
5/10
From the Dusty Baker Predicatron: (Lineup slot : times faced) 1: 6 2: 5 3: 4 4: 7 5: 7 6: 8 7: 6 8: 6 9: 6 (all pinch hitters) Can anything be learned from this? Dusty avoids pitching Chapman to the 2-3 hitters?