2013 Reds / Titanic Struggle Recap

Titanic Struggle Recap: A punch in the gut

Let’s recap tonight’s titanic struggle….

FINAL
Cincinnati 6
Milwaukee 7

W: J. Axford (6-6)
L: A. Chapman (3-5)
BOX SCORE

–With the Reds on the verge of a win that would have lifted them to second place in the NL Central, Aroldis Chapman blew it, surrendering a walkoff homer to Jonathan Lucroy.

Ugh.

For the record, we love Aroldis. The fact that he gave up a homer tonight isn’t reason to think, all of a sudden, that he isn’t good. But there’s this myth that being a closer requires some magic fairy dust. It doesn’t. He’s not so dominant as a closer that it was imperative to keep him in that role.

One of these days, I’ll quit tilting at that particular windmill. I know that ship has sailed. (Are those metaphors sufficiently mixed?)

Milton is disappointed, even if he doesn't look like it. He thinks Chapman should be a starter.

A terrible showing tonight, Redlegs. Just awful. Milton is disappointed.

70 thoughts on “Titanic Struggle Recap: A punch in the gut

    • @Steve Mancuso: Aaron Haning makes a valid point. Five appearances over six days. The velocity was their but it was a slider that got hit and I presume it was a hanging slider.

  1. Has that ship sailed? It just seems kind of sad that Chapman goes another year without learning how to really “pitch”. It appears that what he does for one inning at a time is just throw as hard as he can, hope to hit the strike zone somewhere, and mix in an occasional slider but not consistently. Maybe Reds management or coaches have concluded that this closer role is his true and limited upside, and it may be an evaluation of his mental aptitude for pitching rather than the physical side. Otherwise, the potential value of his physical talent is being minimized and stunted.

  2. I don’t think Milton is necessary here, but, Chapman, as entertaining as he can be, really is barely more, or less effective than CoCo Cordero was (look up the numbers). The “Closer” role is so overrated, that, especially the way Dusty goes “by the book”, there is no way any team should pay what the Reds are paying for, what is, in reality, a pretty routine closing pitcher. Nobody wants to admit that, especially when he’s tossing 101+ m.p.h heat, but, really, Coco “saved” about as many games as Aroldis has.

    • @wildwestLV: A friend and I who watch the games and text each other during have been calling Chapman CoCo for several months now. Pitchers are creatures of habit and we can see tendencies in them watching games. Chapman struggles when there are runners, even one, on base. I always say when you bring him in, get someone up in the pen and if one runner gets on pull him right away. The same as when you know Bailey or Leake is going to struggle, you see it coming. Dusty & company however cant seem to notice these tendencies from the dugout. To me Chapman is a sideshow. “See how fast he can throw!” Let him close on a short leash but does anyone really want him starting when he cant concentrate with runners on??

  3. I too am on the “Chapman should be a starter” bandwagon. At his age, with his stuff, don’t you want him pitching 180-200 innings per year vs. a couple of times per week? The Reds have invested a lot of money in him – it’s nuts to me that he is not in the rotation. For me, his value is diminished in the closer role. Hoover could close, Broxton could close. Sure, the 100 mph fastball at the end of the game is exciting…but in terms of value, seems to me it’s maximized if he is a starter.

    • @Greenie55: The 100+ mph fastball does not, by itself, make him a potential starter. We just don’t know the basis for the decision, and instead of assuming that a well-run team (check the record) made an important decision without having a basis, maybe we should retain or acquire open minds.

  4. If the Reds decision makers thought Chapman could be a starter, he would be. I think the Reds brass are afraid Chapman would be on the DL with arm problems before the All Star break if he was a starting pitcher.

    • @Sergeant2:
      100% agree. The people who know this team and its players better than anyone have seen something or feel something that make them uncomfortable being a starter.

      His arm would probably fall off. He has the tendency to need a lot of pitches to get out of an inning. He wouldn’t go deep into games and chances are he would be on a pitch count and most likely be at that amount right now and be shut down for the season… And we wouldn’t have him down the stretch.. Ask Washington fans how they feel about those situations.

      Lastly, with what we have seen from our starters this year, who would e have replaced??? Would he really be better than what we have gotten? I don’t think so. In my opinion we would be in a worse situation if he was a starter this year.

      Again… I defer to those who are paid a lot more money than I can imagine to make these decisions… And over the last couple of years those decisions have been good to us

  5. You always say Chapman is being waste as a reliever. Who in this rotation would he replace? The rotation is incredible. Chapman would get destroyed using his 92 mph heater in the third. Dude doesn’t get touched when he mixes in his slider more than once after three foul balls on heaters. You guys are the same ones that cheer him when he makes hitters look silly to close a game. He’s not good enough to be a starter. He’s a stubborn pitcher who needs to use more than one pitch.

    • @JayBruce32: Just a note: when you start your comment with, “You idiots…”, it really turns off the readers to whatever you were about to say. Especially when your argument is the exact same thing that people here have been saying.

      Seriously. I mean, I’m upset right now (college roommate spat/other miscellaneous crap), but that is a terrible way to start a comment and just leaves the reader thinking you’re belligerent.

    • @JayBruce32: First, I agree with the idea that starting a comment with You Idiots is only gonna undermine your argument. (And I save that phrase for yelling at the radio when Dusty makes my head hurt.)

      But more to the point, who would Chapman dislodge from the rotation? Good question. Right now, I have no idea. Because I didn’t know that Cingrani would come along as fast as he did and fill in so well for Cueto. Did you? …. After this past spring training, he would have had Leake’s rotation spot. And then it would have been Leake getting a shot when Cueto got hurt. And then it would have been Cingrani instead of Pedro Villareal and Greg Reynolds, and if Cingrani had, at that point, been opening eyes in just a fraction of what he has done this season, you have instant depth in starting pitching, or you have a trade piece somewhere along the way, like, maybe for a shortstop upgrade and a real bench presence if needed???

      And, of course, the Reds have, let’s count, three, four other guys who could be the closer? Broxton, Hoover, LeSam right off the bat.

      Incidentally, if it’s the case that Chapman just doesn’t have “it” to be a starter, why would the Reds try him in that role in spring training on back to back years? If he doesn’t have it in him, why would it take that long to decide?……..Here is a a quote from Dusty Baker himself when Chapman was sent to the bullpen this spring: “The No. 1 starter is worth more than your closer, but how do you know if he’s a No. 1 or not?” Baker said. “Hopefully, some day we will find that out.”………

      So yeah, by all means, let’s put him at closer where he’ll convert — and blow — about the same percentage of saves as most closers — and his own often reviled predecessor. And if it doesn’t work out as a starter? Gee, he’d make somebody an average closer with a heck of a fastball.

  6. I am not surprised he blew it. He got lucky last night. When u see the same hitters back to back nights they will get a good read on you. 2 more games this weekend. Heads up everybody.

  7. Very positive stuff from Todd Frazier tonight. I made a vow about 10 days/2 weeks ago to stay positive no matter what for the rest of the season. Until tonight it had been pretty easy. Frazier and Heisey were really good, and Leake wasn’t good, but he didn’t totally implode when he could have. I did think going into the ninth that it might be worth leaving Hoover in for a batter or two because a bunch of righties were coming up, but I can’t really question using the closer in the closer’s role at this point. I did start thinking about how many saves Coco used to blow per season versus Chapman, etc, but then decided that was negative. Staying positive. I love Mat Latos. Can’t wait to see him go tomorrow!

  8. I picture a muggy August night when Aroldis, 40 pitches in, really starts to get warmed up. Then…. I wake up.

  9. I do agree with the strategy of using Chapman’s “stuff” once, or twice in a series: he can “overwhelm” a hitter, who hasn’t seen his “heat”, and make him swing silly. But, give time, any MLB hitter, worth his weight, can hit Chappy’s stuff. I just don’t think it’s worth sacrificing a bat, and or, an outstanding everyday pitcher to make the ESPN, token MLB, highlights. I’m on board for moving Chapman to a team who can give us a useful everyday bat & player, and let them use him for a middle/long reliever, or even starter. Who cares?!? Free up that $. We’ll need it ($) to renew Dusty for another five ; )

  10. Did Chapman throw a slider tonight? If he threw 10+ pitches, and all were fastballs against the two best hitters in the Brewers lineup, no wonder why two hits resulted in the end.

    More sliders.

    • @rfay00: I thought I heard Creeper say the pitch he got beaten on was a slider; and, I thought that it looked like a very hung slider over middle of the plate about belt high.

      I thought he should have thrown Lucroy a slider too, But fastball or slider, if it is over the middle of the plate and belt high, it is likely to get tattoo by a decent hitter like Lucroy

      • @OhioJim: It was an 80mph slider that didn’t really break and hung right over the middle of the plate. His fastball was not in triple digits last night, which makes him pretty hittable…

  11. First of all the reds missed the boat last year at the winter meeting where we should of traded Chapman and restocked our farm system. Second, I thought Broxton should have been used in the 9th, especially since Chapman has pitched 4 out of 5 and faced the same 3 RH hitters as last night. Third, why throw a slider after 5 consecutive 99 MPH fastballs and speed up his bat?! The pitch selection tonight was horrible. What an absolutely blown chance to takeover 2nd place and win 6 straight.

    • @Josh: What!?!, Bad pitch selection after Hanigan had replaced Meso? That’s heresy to say on this site.

      As I said above I don’t think it matter so much whether it was a fastball or slider as it did that the pitch sat up thigh high over the middle of the plate.

    • @Josh: Josh, sorry posted my comment before reading yours.

      And it seems a lot of us are in agreement. Missed the boat – package and ship (UPS) – Chapman and Bailey – think the Reds missed the proverbial boat on both of them.

  12. Not so fast Kimosabe. Please do us a favor and not try to speak for all of us. Appreciate it. As it is, Chapman is like a toy you receive at Christmas all shiny and new (like a pitcher that can throw a 103 MPH fast ball) – that you eventually get tired of. I am not sure of his mindset, or even attempt to understand it. But the dude has shown very little improvement since he has been with the Reds. And since I don’t understand his background, just wonder if he is unteachable or the Reds have simply and totally mismanaged him.

    Hoover? Now that’s a story – as he has continued to improve and simply looks like he is getting consistently better. Buy low, and sell high – with Chapman the Reds have simply missed the boat.

  13. When you have Broxton (proven closer with other teams), plus Lecure and Hoover (who was already in the game and has proven he can go multiple innings), then you don’t need to go to Chapman tonight. He’d pitched several days in a row and everybody and their dog knows Chapman loses effectiveness pitching several days in a row. Most closers lose effectiveness that way.

    Chapman either sits and rots for days and days or he pitches every night and ends up blowing it. This is what happens when you’re not flexible.

  14. For the record, I don’t blame Chapman, or even Dusty for the loss. Hoover, LeCure, Broxton (who here would have been surprised if he’d have given it up?) all could have easily blown it. My issue is: why can’t an MLB manager have a “feel” for when his “reliever” has “it” and let him close it out? Managers leave starters in all the time, because, “they were in a groove”. Why is it different for relievers? Some nights Hoover will have it. Some nights LeCure will. Some nights Broxton will. Some nights Chapman will (well, maybe not, he’s a “closer”, not a “reliever”, so we’ll never know). In the end, though, it’s pretty expensive.

  15. I do blame Dusty. I blame him for a few reasons.

    1) Dusty wanted Chapman in the closer role. What that has done is take the left Hander who can throw 100 and stunted his growth. He had not been forced to develop his slider and throw it with more consistency and confidence as he would have to as a starter. Last spring when everyone thought he was going into the rotation, he was also working on a change. That has gone away completely too in the closer role. Reds management allowed it and Dusty got his way. They have turned a left handed flame thrower with ace potential into an average closer.

    2) I saw in the 9th, Hanigan looking into the dugout for signs. The Brewer who hit the HR kept fouling off fastball after fastball until he got the HR. A slider could have been called from the bench. Often, when Chapman does get actually hit, it’s when he isn’t mixing his pitches. Tonight, he was not mixing and nothing was coming from the dugout to force him to do otherwise.

    3) chapman has a world of raw talent and ability obviously. Dusty was pushing for him to be a closer and got his way. Who here can say right now, they know Hoover would be worse as a closer than what Chapman is. Chapman is middle of the pack with his closer numbers. Hoover couldn’t be a middle of the pack closer?

    • @brandon11: Hey Brandon, Dusty is like a big buffon that just needs to be let lose to roam out in the pasture. He is being passed by moment by moment…and his replacement may be right there along side of him in pitching coach Brian Price. Success of Reds starting pitching – just look toward Brian – based on his affect on the pitching staff, he simply needs to run the whole show as soon as possible – trust me, it won’t be soon enough for his eventual audition.

  16. God himself could be the closer for cincy but even he could not save us from Dusty come the postseason if we make it in that is!!!

  17. Something about this loss didn’t haunt me as bad after the initial few minutes of agony. In several ways, this just seemed like one that we were destined to lose, just not in the way that a team is destined to lose when the score grows lopsided quickly …….. It’s pretty obvious when it’s not going to be Leake’s night, then you add in some of the Dusty-isms, like having to bunt Hanigan in part to avoid the DP, so of course he bunts INTO a DP, and then having to use the closer for the fifth time in six days just because it’s a save situation, when you couldn’t use him in Chicago in the 14th inning because it WASN’T a save situation …… Heck, if not for the Brewers’ poor base running, the game might have been over before it actually was.

    One thing I’m curious about and haven’t seen the play yet — heard tonight’s game on radio — was that Marty said (and Brantley readily agreed) that the fly ball that started all the trouble in the third(?) inning would have been an easy catch for Choo. Yet Brandon’s attempt to show off his range turned it into the start of a big inning. For all of BP’s wizardry with the glove, Choo has to have the confidence to call that ball. Maybe I’ll find the replay and see for myself.

    We’ll get ‘em tomorrow …

  18. I can tell I’m in the minority here, but while you can make the argument that he shouldn’t have used Chapman, the naysaying would have been just as bad if he’d have gone with someone else. People would have said, “WHY WASN’t Chapman in there, he’s the closer.”

    And I completely disagree about the slider. I thought it was a FB, that’s what ticked me off. The fact that I thought he kept throwing the FB when the hitter kept fouling it off, and he finally got one squared up. When I saw the discussion this morning and looked on MLB.com and saw it was slider, I just thought, “Ok, they got us.” I think a slider at some point is the right call, he just threw a bad one…that happens to every pitcher in baseball.

    • @Bill Lack: This. Chapman doesn’t throw a devastating slider. Sometimes it is good. Mostly it is bad. He rarely throws it for strikes. He hung one and a good hitter did what most hitters do.

    • @Bill Lack: Disagree. I think if he leaves Hoover in there, virtually everyone would be talking about how wonderful it is that Baker was willing to ignore “roles” in favor of sticking with a guy who’s obviously on a roll and had barely thrown any pitches. Even if Hoover blew it, I think most of Baker’s critics would actually have been more positive than after most losses. I know I would have been. I did NOT want to see Chapman until/unless Hoover got into trouble with a lefty at the plate.

  19. Disappointed in this, my favorite baseball site, today. Yes, the way that ended was an absolute kick in the groin, but leading up to that was 8-1/2 innings of pretty compelling baseball and absolutely NOTHING was written about that.
    Todd Frazier had a great day. No mention.
    Hoover extended his scoreless streak. No mention.
    Leake wasn’t sharp but I liked the way he battled and managed to have the Reds in the lead before he departed. No mention.
    There were a number of other things too.
    I understand if I want a complete game story I should read Fay or Sheldon or somebody, but I expect more here as well.

    • @jernagaj:
      It would have been such a better loss had the typical offense showed up. 5-1 loss would have been like, you cannot win them all.

      Funny game

  20. brandon11: I do blame Dusty!

    Really? Are you blaming him for the Reds being 16 games over .500 too? If he had gone to Hoover or Broxton and they’d blown it, you’d say why didn’t he use Chapman. My gawd people, he must be doing something right. I’m not the biggest fan of Dusty but we’re in the hunt with September still to go.

  21. Hey let’s not forget…Cubs scored 7 on the Cards in one game…and also can we now agree the Pirates are not going to fade out…

  22. First let me say I grew up with the Big Red Machine so this is probably a biased opinion but why not install a direct phone line from Pete Rose’s house to the club house!
    It’s a well known fact that Pete talks to Votto about his hitting and it was reported last week that he had a conversation with Frazier about his approach at the plate and Todd has been on fire since then.
    Pete is a wealth of knowledge that the Reds batters should tap into!

  23. Can we formally request as a group that ESPN stop posting articles about our starters? That’s two in a row where they’ve jinxed us. One loss though guys, shake it off. Gotta get back to winning and while the pitching let us down tonight the offense is showing signs of heating up. When the righties in the lineup hit, the Reds go. That’s our mantra for the rest of the season.

  24. I can respect the argument that Chapman has more value as a starter even if I don’t agree with it. But is there any reason to think he’d become ace material right away? Even if he didn’t blow out his arm (which I think is quite possible), I can easily see him having some struggles in his first year or two as a starter. And with this pennant race so tight, that would be a net negative for the team this year.

    Ultimately, we meed to just trade him after the season for a LF or CF (assuming Choo leaves). He will draw quality on the trade market. Let Hoover or Broxton close.

    • @FWIW567:
      Something I alluded to after the SD BS, If they ever are going to use him as a starter, Now would be the time, the only payoff is if he is dominant as everybody suspects in playoff starts. He has enough time to get into starting shape, otherwise they are shutting him down around this time should they do it at the start of the season

  25. I think the biggest deterent (sp?) to making chappy a viable starter is his tendency to just throw harder when he gets into a jam. And with how volatile he is, it’s a very realistic possibility that once or twice a month he’d get chased out in the early innings and our pen would be massacred for two or three days. Have to give consideration.

    One more point, I’ve read around the web (including here once or twice) that Simons excellent performance as a red the last few years have been in part to pitching in generally low leverage situations. I don’t think it’s fair that we take points away for that but don’t really give them to chapman who pitches in a higher leverage situation.. If anyone can do it, and roles are primarily in the head, why do we discount Simon? It feels kinda like a double standard.

    I too think we should have let chapman have a crack at te rotation, just playing devils advocate here.

  26. Not surprised by this at all. We saw it coming right away. First batter gets on and when the third guy kept fouling off pitch after pitch you just knew it was a matter of time before he turned one around big time. Dusty or Price should have seen this. I agree that there was more than one option in the bullpen tonight for this game. Chapman just wasn’t fooling anyone. I don’t blame him, I blame the coaches for putting him in there to fail. This is a loss that should not have happened. Grrrrrrrrr……

  27. It’s a funny game. Dusty’s calls were right with Heisey and Frazier. He kept Leake in too long to try and get him his Win, but got away with it. I thought his other bullpen choices were correct: Parra has been shockingly effective, and Hoover couldn’t pitch much after his marathon work the other day.

    But then came the unnecessary and unwise double switch with Hanigan. And then came the Chapman choice. My attitude while watching was: I guess you have to put Chapman in, but I don’t feel good about it. They’re clearly still being careful with Broxton. So the other choice was LeCure. If he’d gone with LeSam I don’t think many knowledgable fans would complain. Now we know: 5 days out of 6 is too many for Chapman. (As it would be for most relievers: you don’t typically let anyone throw that often.) We just have to shake it off and move on.

    Oh, and Mike Leake should not get any starts in the playoffs.

  28. Chapman’s career numbers, then year by year:

    Career, ERA/FIP/xFIP: 2.54/2.34/2.39
    2011, ERA/FIP/xFIP/WAR: 3.60/3.29/3.47/0.4
    2012, ERA/FIP/xFIP/WAR: 1.51/1.55/1.93/3.3
    2013, ERA/FIP/xFIP/WAR: 3.10/2.79/2.15/1.0

    I think we know now the type of pitcher Chapman is. Career ERA and FIP in the 2′s is good. But the guy will give one up once in a while, and that is likely to be true whether he is a starter, closer, set-up guy, long relief, pitching 5 of 6 days, throwing once ever 10 days, whatever.

    No one likes to lose, particularly when we had a chance to move ahead of the Cards, but the use of Chapman this year or last year has neither made nor broken this team. 69-53 on 8/16/13, 6 games ahead in the wild card chase, only 3.5 back from first place in the division, and only 3 games off of last year’s pace in which the Reds were 71-47 on 8/16/12 and won the division against weaker Cards and Pirates teams. And this year we’ve been without Cueto, Marshall, Broxton and Ludwick for most of the year.

    • @joelie1274:
      I know the consensus is lots of pitchers could fill the closer role. I think 5 Blown saves, with no indicator that this is the last one, shows Chapman is at best average. It seemed like 90′s and 80′s closers were a bit flexible, in that you had the 30 to 40 save guys but you had several others with 5-10 saves as well. It seems the trend is that you must have the 9th inning guy (no 2 inning saves) to be successful, but does anyone have data to show that teams are more successful.
      It just seems like lazy managing, as it would have made sense to stay with Hoover if you were not commited to closing this way.

      Regardless, I would think Chapman is unavailable tonight.

  29. There is no doubt that a good rotation pitcher is more valuable than a good closer. The way the season has unfolded, the Reds decision in spring on Chapman’s role has worked out this year. They are using him where they most need him. With Cingrani filling in for Cueto, the rotation is one of the best in the league.

    Meanwhile the bullpen has suffered from injuries. The Reds had to call up the likes of Partch and Villareal to shore up the bullpen. If they were one more reliever short, the BP could have been a disaster this year. Or they may have ended up shifting Chapman back to the bullpen to cover for the injuries anyway.

  30. Chapman will never start a game in a Reds uniform. I can’t believe after all these years, we’re still talking about it. To quote the smart people after every backbreaking loss, “Move on.”

  31. Not to say good or bad, yes or no, just making statements.

    I was thinking just before Chapman’s first pitch, with three straight right handers coming up, so close to another extra inning game, I wouldn’t take Hoover out, burning another pitcher in this game, especially after Chapman had been used 4 of the previous 5 games.

    The short fly to BP/Choo, I believe that was Choo’s ball. I don’t know what was said between the two, as in maybe Choo gave up on it. But, going out that far, Sorry, I believe that is Choo’s ball. One thing for sure, imo, Stubbs would have let it drop in front of him.

    Good to see Frazier coming around. I always hesitate to judge on just one game, one series, one season, preferring to see a couple of games, anyhow. And, Frazier seems to be coming around. Good to see Heisey hit last night also. I still say the thing with Heisey is the same with Devin, the more consistent playing time they get (as in 3+ every 5 games), the better they can be. All-star caliber I did not say, just better.

    It may have been just one game for Chapman, but we have seen this from a couple of Chapman’s games this season. I hope this steps down the talk of Chapman starting anymore. I will say, again, even I would be interested in “seeing an experiment” with him. But, I would still bet on him not succeeding as a starter. Much more to starting than just throwing a ball hard. And, that HR was off a slider, his breaking ball. Remember what Pete said, that a major league hitter will still be able to catch up on that fastball, especially since it has no movement on it.

  32. It’s not the end of the world. These things happen. The pitching was not good last night, and that happens so rarely that it seems crazy to get too upset about it. Latos is on the hill tonight and Homer on Sunday. That should mean 2 Wins. I’ll take 6 out of 7 on the road every time, no matter who they’re playing. 5/7 wouldn’t be the worst thing ever either.

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