PHOENIX -- The Cincinnati Reds are excited about the potential of their rotation for the short- and long-term, but don’t be surprised if left-hander Aroldis Chapman isn’t a part of it come Opening Day as there is strong sentiment that he could start the year in Triple-A. The Reds committed $30.5 million on Chapman to be a starter, but he’s spent most of his career in the Reds' bullpen, which hasn’t allowed him to develop his secondary pitches or his command. (He walked 7.4 men per nine innings last season.)
In order to develop his off-speed stuff and refine his command, he needs innings. Remember, his 101 mph fastball is supplemented only by an inconsistent slider, which at times can be devastating but he doesn’t have command in the zone. He had a forkball when he pitched in Cuba and a changeup he rarely uses. Therefore, to eventually earn the $30.5 million he’s being paid, starting in Triple-A and getting the innings to refine those secondary pitches could be the best thing for him and the Reds. It also would give them a starter to go get if one of their top five starters stumbles or gets injured.
The Reds' projected rotation is Mat Latos, Johnny Cueto, Bronson Arroyo, Mike Leake and Homer Bailey, and they have veterans such as Jeff Francis and Brett Tomko ready to step in if injury strikes. That means Chapman starting the year in Triple-A is a real possibility.