2012 Reds / Dusty Watch / Editorials

The Chapman/Marshall Mistake

The era of Aroldis Chapman closing for the Reds is here. Like all Reds fans, I thoroughly enjoyed watching Chapman secure the last three outs today against the Yankees. But I can’t abide by the discouraging decision that put him there.

It’s a short-sighted move and borne from disregard or ignorance of modern analytics.

1. Sean Marshall has been great this year (really).  Sean Marshall is pitching more than well enough to keep his job as closer. He has the thirteenth highest strikeout rate (13.19 K/9) and the ninth best strikeout-to-walk ratio (7.0 K/BB) in all baseball. That’s this year and doesn’t take into account blowing away Robinson Cano on three pitches today. That’s elite stuff. His track record at getting important outs is longer than anyone else’s in the bullpen.

When you remove luck, Marshall and Chapman have pitched equally well this year. Chapman has a better K/9 but Marshall’s rate is also extraordinary. Marshall has a lower walk rate (1.88 vs. 2.95) and superior ground ball percentage (60% vs. 41%) than Chapman.

The main difference between the two has been luck. Advanced metrics offers statistics that measure luck – Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP), home runs as a percentage of fly balls (HR/FB%) and stranded runners (LOB%) are three. Marshall has the second highest BABIP of all 349 pitchers in the major leagues. His HR/FB% and LOB% are also both extremely high.

What’s important for fans (and organizations) to understand is that all three of these factors are largely out of the pitcher’s control.  One statistic that evaluates pitchers and removes these luck factors is called “expected fielding independent pitching” (xFIP) which is calibrated to the same scale as traditional ERA.

xFIP – Chapman (1.43), Marshall (1.53).

Sean Marshall’s xFIP is lower than any other current closer in the major leagues.

If an organization is strongly committed to incorporating modern analytics into their decision-making, they would evaluate pitchers based on the parts of their performance they can control, not luck.

2.  Starters >> Closers.  Starters pitch 180-200 innings per year instead of 60-70. Closers enter many games with two or three runs leads, sometimes against the weakest part of the other team’s order. In those situations, research shows almost any pitcher can be effective.

My favorite statistic that demonstrates the relative unimportance of closers concerns Mariano Rivera. It’s pretty much uncontested that Rivera is the greatest closer of all time. From 1997, when Rivera became the Yankees closer, to 2008, the Yankees won 97.3% (!) of all games they entered the ninth inning with a lead. So obviously, having a lock-down closer makes a huge difference. Right?

Consider this: From 1951-62 (another 11-year period of dominance for the Yankees, in the pre-closer era, when many pitchers finished games for teams), the Yankees winning percentage when they entered the ninth inning with a lead — 97.3%.

Surprising, but revealing.

The Reds have other pitchers besides Chapman who could be the closer. Chapman has pitched the best so far, but both Logan Ondrusek and Jose Arredondo have pitched brilliantly all year. They are also more accomplished than Chapman from the standpoint of pitching multiple days in a row.

Closers — at their best — simply don’t help a team nearly as much as a starting pitcher. In his 17 seasons with the Yankees, Rivera averaged 2.3 Wins Above Replacement (WAR). Drew Stubbs and Mat Latos have averaged more than that. Rivera has posted four seasons with 3 or more WAR. Mat Latos has already achieved that twice.

The move to the closer role dramatically reduces Chapman’s value to the team. He’ll pitch mostly when the team is already ahead, in situations where other pitchers could essentially fill the same role. Modern analytics again, make this clear.

3. Mismanaging Chapman, Part III.  Moving Chapman to the closer role is probably the only decision that could actually worsen the organization’s mismanagement of Chapman’s talent.

As Dusty Baker’s closer, Chapman will pitch even fewer innings than he does now. So far, Sean Marshall has been used less than every other member of the bullpen, including Alfredo Simon. Last year, Coco Cordero threw 69 innings. Travis Wood, Edinson Volquez, even Dontrelle Willis threw more.

The move solidifies Chapman’s role in the bullpen, unfortunately moving him farther away from joining the starting rotation. At the start of next year he’ll be half way through his 6-year contract with the Reds having contributed a total of only 130 innings. To make matters worse, if the Reds do move him to the rotation in 2013, he’ll be on an innings limit.

—–

Moving Marshall out of the closer role after only fourteen, largely successful innings, gives off a whiff of panic that is surprising for Dusty Baker, who usually sticks with his closers through thick and thin. What happened to the manager who didn’t waver an inch in his support for Cordero even once in four years?

Maybe Baker is simply seizing a way to cement Chapman’s presence in the bullpen. That’s a struggle he’s waged with GM Walt Jocketty for at least a year.

Installing Aroldis Chapman as the closer is a rash decision based on obsolete metrics and flawed reasoning. It’s the opposite of smart, well-informed baseball decision-making. Use whatever adjectives you want for that.

My friend Mike Maffie, who helped me with this post, points out: As the thinking of baseball moves forward, the Reds move backward. Dustyball is the opposite of Moneyball.

The movie ‘Dustyball’ would undoubtedly be shot with a Super 8 camera on black-and-white film.

133 thoughts on “The Chapman/Marshall Mistake

  1. Sorry but I think some here are making a mountain out of a mole hill. I just don’t see what the big deal is of Chapman pitching the 9th over say the 7th or 8th. We all need to come to the understanding that Chapman is not going to be a starter under this present leadership of the Reds, and continually going on and on about it seems to me to be getting old. The Reds have 5 starters right now and for whatever reason Chapman isn’t part of that. So with that said what is the big deal if he is the “hold” guy in the 7th or 8th or the closer in the 9th.

    • Sorry but I think some here are making a mountain out of a mole hill.I just don’t see what the big deal is of Chapman pitching the 9th over say the 7th or 8th.We all need to come to the understanding that Chapman is not going to be a starter under this present leadership of the Reds, and continually going on and on about it seems to me to be getting old.The Reds have 5 starters right now and for whatever reason Chapman isn’t part of that.So with that said what is the big deal if he is the “hold” guy in the 7th or 8th or the closer in the 9th.

      I agree.

  2. @lookatthathat: Off topic, but on that site did you see the article about Madden 2013 to have “Tebowing” in it? That’s a little ridiculous.

    Maybe Tim Tebow can play 3B?

  3. @rfay00: Nah, he’s a lefty. It’s illegal and punishable by law to have lefty infielders that aren’t 1B.

    I wish they would have made TO sign the camera after touchdowns on a couple of the old games.

  4. @dn4192: I don’t know how big a deal it is, but it’s a concern if you want to see him starting for the Reds at some point. And people aren’t going to stop talking about that. We talk non-stop about lesser issues, like the current 25th man.

  5. I’m looking forward to the day Dusty Baker gets fired. If Jocketty thinks this is a good plan he should get fired.

    • I’m looking forward to the day Dusty Baker gets fired. If Jocketty thinks this is a good plan he should get fired.

      How can he not think it’s a good plan. Do you really think if he was against this move that it would happen? I really don’t feel the Reds see Chapman as a starter, especially with the loss of Madsen and the SP so far pitching well enough. I think this “fasination” with Chapman as a starter lies in the minds of the fans, not Dusty or Walt.

      • I really don’t feel the Reds see Chapman as a starter, especially with the loss of Madsen and the SP so far pitching well enough. I think this “fasination” with Chapman as a starter lies in the minds of the fans, not Dusty or Walt.

        Jocketty has said several times he wants Chapman to start. He started all through spring break (he was our best starter). He’d have probably begun the year as a starter without the injuries to Madson, Masset and Bray.

        • Jocketty has said several times he wants Chapman to start. He started all through spring break (he was our best starter). He’d have probably begun the year as a starter without the injuries to Madson, Masset and Bray.

          Walt can “say” all he wants. Where is Chapman now? This idea that Chapman is the only person whom is good enough to close, or that the bullpen will fall apart with him not in it, is almost laughable. Just like any politican, I refuse to accept anything Walt says, show me with actual actions.

  6. I pretty much agree with Steve on Chapman, but I don’t think this year’s sample size on BABIP, etc., is sufficient to conclude that Marshall is just a victim of bad luck. My observation is that he’s getting his fastball up too much, and it’s getting hit hard. The fact that he has a higher number of fly balls that are homers likely means he’s throwing some lousy pithes that are getting smoked, not that he’s having some bad luck. And BABIP can be a bit crude, too; I wish it was BA (on hard-hit balls), or BAHHB. I think he’s had more balls hit hard than usual, perhaps because he’s leaving his fastball up or it has less movement. And I don’t see any reason why he should continue to have a jump in K/9, so more balls will likely be put in play once his K rate normalizes.

    The BABIP skeptic in me arises because it holds that on a day when the wind blows in hard at Wrigely Field, the only difference between Chris Welch (love him, but couldn’t strike out Drew Stubbs from 45 feet) and Greg Maddux is that Maddux strikes out more guys. I don’t believe that.

    I’d ditch the closer role altogehter, and use the theory that if a pitcher is effective, then leave him in. It worked for Casey Stengel, Whitey Herzog, Sparky Anderson, etc.

  7. @Big Ed: read pinson343’s post above that break’s down marshall’s numbers even more, past BABIP. There is more that goes into it, you’re right, but Marshall has mostly just been victimized by grounders finding holes.

    He hasn’t given up more line drives, despite people thinking that he must be getting his fastball up and getting hit hard.

  8. Using sabermetrics to say Marshall has been just as good as Chapman is one reason why I hate sabermetrics. I meant, what kind of statistic would actually try to use “luck” as a reason someone is succeeding while another isn’t?

    Chapman is just better than Marshall. Ignore the stats. Use your eyes.

  9. @dn4192: Well, Brian Price seemed to be pushing pretty hard to put him in the rotation. And Walt was behind Chapman starting in spring training. And then the other day Walt said we might have to be “resigned” to having Chapman in the pen all year.

    It doesn’t sound like Walt has wanted him in the pen to me. What i think is that Dusty has been pushing for him to be the closer for some time. Brice wanted him to start, and Walt at least wanted to give him a chance to start.

    But then Walt’s big closer signing (which was supposed to be the end of the Chapman debate, remember?) blew up, and Masset and Bray went down, and then Walt’s other reliever looked shaky.

    So Dusty got his way.

    • @dn4192: Well, Brian Price seemed to be pushing pretty hard to put him in the rotation. And Walt was behind Chapman starting in spring training. And then the other day Walt said we might have to be “resigned” to having Chapman in the pen all year. It doesn’t sound like Walt has wanted him in the pen to me. What i think is that Dusty has been pushing for him to be the closer for some time. Brice wanted him to start, and Walt at least wanted to give him a chance to start. But then Walt’s big closer signing (which was supposed to be the end of the Chapman debate, remember?) blew up, and Masset and Bray went down, and then Walt’s other reliever looked shaky. So Dusty got his way.

      Walt can say all he wants about Chapman as a SP, but actions speak louder then words. You can’t tell me that if Walt wanted Chapman in the SP role he wouldn’t be there. The Reds have other options to “close” out games. This I believe was the plan from day 1 after Madsen was lost by all parties involved.

  10. @CI3J: No one is saying Marshall is Better than Chapman, why don’t you use your eyes to read the post and comments?

    The point people are making is that Marshall is very good, even though he’s given up a lot of hits in a small sample size.

    The Reds management is using a few hits in 3 games to change how they are using one of their most valuable assets. Moving Chapman to the closer role definitely reduces the chances that he’ll be in the rotation, and probably reduces the amount of innings that he’ll pitch even compared to when he was a set up man.

    Reducing the number of innings that your best pitcher (probably) pitches based on a few more grounder finding holes against one of your other best pitchers is asinine.

    • Would you rather (in his prime) have Randy Johnson or Billy Wagner?

      Wouldn’t it be better to say Randy Johnson or Marino Rivera? Also we know Chapman can be dominate for 1-2 innings, we don’t know what happens when he has to pitch 6+ in a game.

      • Wouldn’t it be better to say Randy Johnson or Marino Rivera? Also we know Chapman can be dominate for 1-2 innings, we don’t know what happens when he has to pitch 6+ in a game.

        Sure, insert any dominant reliever in there. Regardless of who you name as your closer, you’d rather have the potential starter throwing 200 innings a year.

        And we only know that Chapman can be dominant for a 6-7 week stretch out of the bullpen. He also had a very strong stretch in the middle of last summer.

        We don’t know what happens when he closes over a full season (2 career saves), and he hasn’t yet shown the ability to work effectively on back-to-back days. IMO, he has just as many questions out of the bullpen as he does in the rotation.

      • Wouldn’t it be better to say Randy Johnson or Marino Rivera?

        Johnson career WAR: 114.7
        Rivera career WAR: 39.4

        Johnson seasons over 3.0 WAR: 15
        Rivera seasons over 3.0 WAR: 3

        Johnson seasons over 5.0 WAR: 10
        Rivera seasons over 5.0 WAR: 0

        Chapman is likely not going to have the career of either Johnson or Rivera. But there’s no comparison whether a starter or reliever – even the greatest – is more valuable.

  11. @CI3J: Don’t lose the forrest for the trees though… over six weeks, of course our eyes tell us Chapman has been better than anybody. What the stats suggest though is that over the season (of which there is PLENTY to go) that both of them would be highly effective in the role. And, if Aroldis is better, it makes even poorer sense to use him less often as a closer than they might as a set-up man. Obviously the stats can’t manage any portion that is psychological to the player in the closer situation, so we’ll see.

    I’m all for using Champan 2 to 3 innings at a time and going committee style to rest him up in between. I know some of this is just a recency effect of seeing relievers going down, but I cringe thinking of the day Aroldis comes up with “inflamation” or whatever after going a couple days in a row.

  12. What I don’t understand is why Dusty, a supposedly “old school” baseball guy who learned from Hank Aaron has to use his closer in such a “new school” establishment way. It’s like he can’t think for himself at all and has to do everything the current baseball way of doing it.

    If dusty was managing in the 70’s instead of playing in the 70’s, would he be running a closer out there for 3 outs? Or a lefty out there to get one out?

    I’ve posted this before, but I think it’s worth remembering.

    The Nasty Boys (Appearances; Innings; Saves)
    Myers – 66 86.2 31
    Dibble – 68 98 11

    The rest of the pen had 8 saves, meaning that the closer Myers only got about 60% of the saves. And look how many more innings than appearances they have. Both pitched multiple innings almost as much as they pitched single innings.

    And this was about 20 years ago.

    If you are going to use Chapman out of the pen, he should be pushing 100 IP if not more. If the starter comes out after 7, let him finish the hole thing. If that means that sometimes he’s not available, let one of the other very good relievers get the next save.

  13. And just to follow up, in his 4 years with the Reds under Dusty Baker, Francisco Cordero made 283 appearances, and pitched 279.1 innings. Just a little less than 1 IP per appearance.

  14. @dn4192: the conspiracy theory is the least interesting part of this because it’s all speculation. if that’s what you believe, so be it.

    • @al: the conspiracy theory is the least interesting part of this because it’s all speculation. if that’s what you believe, so be it.

      No conspiracy..Walt and Dusty have had a plan since Madsen went down, and it never involved Chapman in the starting rotation.

  15. @al:

    @Matt WI:

    To both of you guys, I for one do want Chapman in the rotation. However, Marshall has struggled in the closer role. You can look at sabermetrics, but the bottom line is he has already blown one save and had to be rescued from potentially blowing 2 more.

    I hate Chapman as the closer. I think it stinks. I prefer to give Ondru The Giant a shot, or Arredondo. I do think Dusty loves having Chapman in the bullpen; to Dusty, Chapman is the “secret weapon” and I think he loves dangling Chapman over other teams’ heads. Purely childish and stubborn.

    However, Marshall is NOT the answer at closer. I have seen enough. Like I said, no matter if it’s “luck” or whatever you want to call it, Marshall has not been getting it done. He has 7 saves and could have 3 blown saves by this point. You think 70% is good for a closer?

  16. @al: You left off one point about the Nasty Boys. That is: Norm Charlton was moved to the rotation for a lot of the year. He wasn’t nearly as good in the rotation as he was as a reliever, if you go by stats other than ERA. But Pineilla realized that they needed a starter. And that Charlton starting was more valuable than the lore of the three nasty boys. He was only moved back to the pen for the postseason because the Reds went with a 3 man rotation.

  17. @CI3J: all i can say is that using bad statistics leads to bad decisions, and the save is a bad stat. i’ll take the guy who has lots of strikeouts and ground balls, rarely walks people and rarely gives up HRs. I’ll give you the guys with lots of wins and saves. I think I’ll have the better staff.

    Remember when Jimmy Haynes started on opening day because he won 15 games? Remember when CoCo had 40 saves in 48 tries with a 3.84 ERA? Stats like wins and saves actually serve to hide the real value of the players, which is the opposite of what a stat is supposed to do.

    So asking me if I think 70% (which is BS by the way and you know it, but that’s beside the point) is good for a closer is largely just a meaningless question. The answer isn’t yes or no, it’s that I don’t care. What I care about is how the pitcher is pitching, and from everything I can tell, Marshall has been pitching pretty damned well.

  18. @dn4192: If you would rather have Rivera than Johnson, both in their primes, then I don’t know what to say.

    • @dn4192: If you would rather have Rivera than Johnson, both in their primes, then I don’t know what to say.

      It would depend on the makeup of my team and what I needed. I don’t believe you can say I would take one over the other without knowing more information.

      • @dn4192: Your overstating that… everyone here wants to know what would happen if he were a starter. If the worst thing that happens is that we find out it didn’t work, then you have a bullpen guy. But you have to, have to, try to see what would happen.

        • @Matt WI: Your overstating that… everyone here wants to know what would happen if he were a starter. If the worst thing that happens is that we find out it didn’t work, then you have a bullpen guy. But you have to, have to, try to see what would happen.

          I agree 100%, but I believe there are some here who believe that right now Chapman is our best starting pitcher on the roster and there is zero numbers to support that. Should we have those numbers by now, of course, but we don’t and to assume the Reds have their best starter in the pen isn’t supported by any numbers.

  19. @CI3J: 70% (even though that’s not true) over a short period doesn’t mean anything to me yet. I guess I’m just not as comfortable using a mere 6 weeks to make a final determination on Marshall’s capabilities in the role compared to his career (and current) numbers. Stats help take a step back from the emotion we’re all given to attaching to a situation. But I agree with you on the idea that if it isn’t going to be Marshall, at least let somebody else try. Don’t waste Chapman this way.

  20. As for Jocketty, I don’t care whose decision it was to move Chapman to closer and not the rotation. If it’s Jocketty’s, Jocketty should be fired. If it’s Baker’s, Jocketty should resign.

  21. @Greg Dafler: You’ve already hit on the point I was going to make today, which is: Randy Johnson would have made a *fine* closer. What a shame some manager didn’t see his potential and make him one. Would’ve changed his career.

    “Wouldn’t it be better to say Randy Johnson or Marino Rivera? Also we know Chapman can be dominate for 1-2 innings, we don’t know what happens when he has to pitch 6+ in a game.”

    No, we don’t know, and by all means, let’s never find out. It might not work.

  22. Let’s step back and look at what one of the most backwards organizations in the major leagues had done.

    1. Moved Marshall, their second-best FIP reliever, to a LOOGY role.

    2. Moved Ondrusek, their second-worst FIP reliever, to the key 8th inning role.

    3. Moved Chapman, possibly the teams’ best starter behind Cueto, a guy who hasn’t proven he can pitch effectively in back-to-back days, to closer, a role that the way Baker will manage means he comes in based on leads in the 9th inning. Don’t kid yourselves, there will be immense pressure on him to pitch every time the 9th inning lead comes around.

    It just is amazing.

  23. @RC: Thanks for that. I was drinking root beer and it almost went through my nose. Quite funny.

  24. @al:

    It is not BS to say that Marshall has struggled. This is where looking at stats can blind you. Watch the games. You call it “bad luck”. I call it “throwing hittable balls that hitters can drive exactly where they want them to go.” Contrary to popular belief, it IS possible to direct where you want a batted baseball to go. That has nothing to do with luck, it’s all skill. And if a pitcher is giving up a lot of hits, well, when does he take the responsibility for it?

    The guy has an ERA around 5 and a WHIP of 1.70. For a closer, that is not going to get it done. You can blame luck, but I look for results. He has already blown 1 save and had to be rescued from blowing 2 more. That is not getting it done.

    Chapman should not be closing because he would be more valuable starting. But neither should Marshall, because he hasn’t shown he can do it.

    • Contrary to popular belief, it IS possible to direct where you want a batted baseball to go.

      I strenuously object (Oh, if you strenuously object…)

      If so, why would anybody ever hit it near a fielder? There is general sense of control (e.g. pull or go opposite field) and then there is specific control. Sometimes a ball goes through the hole, sometimes the SS gets it… that’s not a choice. If you think even Joey Votto can stand at the plate and calculate putting a ball six inches past somebody on purpose, then I don’t know what to say. It’s not any more true than saying Cueto holds the ball a certain way to get people to hit it to Phillips because he likes to watch him flash his glove.

  25. @CI3J: I’ve watched every game Marshall has pitched in. I’ve seen him struggle in 2. He’s looked dominant a lot more often. Pitchers get hit. From what I’ve seen, I have a lot of confidence that his ERA and whip will get a lot better. A .438 BABIP is not sustainable for anyone.

    I’m not just going by stats, I like to scout guys too. What I see with Marshall looks very good to me. Good fastball (bad location in NYY), great slider, and maybe the best curve I’ve seen in years.

    • @CI3J: What I see with Marshall looks very good to me. Good fastball (bad location in NYY), great slider, and maybe the best curve I’ve seen in years.

      That is my point, Al, that Marshall’s lack of effectiveness now is more the result of “bad location in NYY [and elsewhere]” and not luck. In NY, he got ahead throwing curves, then threw hittable pitches, mostly fastballs, that got hit by a left-handed Raul Ibanez (double to right center on 1-2 count), Nick Swisher (single to shallow center on 0-1 count), Andruw Jones (single to center on 1-2 count), and Jason Nix (single to center on 1-2) count. That ain’t Carl Hubbell against 5 hall of famers, although he did strike out the .170 hitting Russell Martin. Marshall couldn’t put hitters away when he was ahead in the count.

      There is no reason that he won’t revert to his usual form, but I don’t think he is pitching very well now, and I’m guessing that Marshall would agree.

      Here is who Marshall has fanned in the month of May:
      Robinson Cano, LH
      Rusell Martin, .170
      Mike Nikeas, .179
      Michael Bourn, LH
      Martin Prado
      Rick Ankiel, LH
      Tyler Moore, .176
      Aramis Ramirez, .219
      Corey Hart
      Brooks Conrad, .000

      The statistical sample size is too small to conclude he is pitching well.

      • That is my point, Al, that Marshall’s lack of effectiveness now is more the result of “bad location in NYY [and elsewhere]” and not luck.

        The statistical sample size is too small to conclude he is pitching well.

        First off, how do you explain a .480 batting average on ground balls? A guy with a very high K rate who gets hitters to put 60% of balls in play is probably going to be great. But if almost half of the grounders turn into hits… well, he’s not getting very lucky now is he.

        Second of all, if you’re going to bring up sample size, then the reverse (the sample size is too small to conclude he’s pitching poorly) is also true. Small sample size doesn’t go one direction.

        • A guy with a very high K rate who gets hitters to put 60% of balls in play is probably going to be great.

          This should read: A guy with a very high K rate who gets hitters to put 60% of balls in play on the ground is probably going to be great.

  26. Interesting how with zero data, everyone here feels Chapman would be a better starter then say closer.

    • Interesting how with zero data, everyone here feels Chapman would be a better starter then say closer.

      I think the basis of most criticism of the organization in this situation is that, here in his 3rd contract year, we have zero data.

  27. @al: And if there was any sense of fairness in the strike zone, that homer to the Mets (Pagan, right?) should have been a strike out. There’s luck related to that too. The Mets got a gift and they cashed in. Good for them.

  28. It would depend on the makeup of my team and what I needed.I don’t believe you can say I would take one over the other without knowing more information.

    Lol no. If you have a rotation of 5 Randy Johnsons and 0 closers, and are offered 1 additional Randy Johnson or 1 Mariano Rivera, you take the 1 Randy Johnson. It isn’t even close.

    • Lol no. If you have a rotation of 5 Randy Johnsons and 0 closers, and are offered 1 additional Randy Johnson or 1 Mariano Rivera, you take the 1 Randy Johnson. It isn’t even close.

      No, if I had a quality SP rotation, and was losing games in the later innings I would go with the closer.

  29. @Big Ed: I actually went back and watched Marshall’s Saturday appearance on Sunday, and you’re right – nobody touched his curveball, every hit came off either a slider or a fastball, both of which looked immenently hittable when they were anywhere near the strike zone.

    (I did this because I made the mistaken comparison Saturday with DR Herrera, whose curve was tough to handle, but hitters were able to foul them off and wait for a mistake. Marshall’s hook is much sharper, and nobody really laid a finger on it.]

  30. @Big Ed: another point is the pitch calling. that’s what i was upset about Saturday. Take the Jones AB. he got ahead with 3 curveballs outside, either on the plate or just off.

    Then on the 4th pitch he throws a good fastball, low 90s, down and away, but jones punches it to the opposite field for a single.

    Now tell me this: do you think Jones hits that fastball if he’s not looking away away away? I said right away that it was a bad call, not a bad pitch. If you’re going to throw a fastball there, you want to change the hitters perspective. A fastball in on the hands probably freezes him for strike 3, but at worst it gets him looking in. Then you go back away with the curve.

    I don’t know if that was called from the dugout, the catcher, or Marshall, but it wasn’t the right thing to throw there.

  31. The main problem I have with Marshall being in the closer role is that his go to stuff is off speed. We all know what happens when the command isn’t fully there and you leave one out over the plate. Even though I salivate to see Chapman in the starting rotation I feel either way its not gonna happen this year. So he mine as well be the Closer. He’s blowing batters away and even if he misses his spot with a 97mph fastball I like his chances better than missing with something off speed.

  32. @Big Ed: Fine, it’s a small sample. It’s also a small sample to remove him on, and he’s got two years behind him saying that he’s an elite reliever. No one else in the bullpen has that.

    • @Big Ed: Fine, it’s a small sample. It’s also a small sample to remove him on, and he’s got two years behind him saying that he’s an elite reliever. No one else in the bullpen has that.

      But I’ve been clear I think he should revert to his elite form. I just think the sample size can’t be used to conclude that he is pitching “great,” which was the point of the original post. I don’t think he is, and I doubt Marshall thinks he is.

    • The move solidifies Chapman’s role in the bullpen, unfortunately moving him farther away from joining the starting rotation. At the start of next year he’ll be half way through his 6-year contract with the Reds having contributed a total of only 130 innings. To make matters worse, if the Reds do move him to the rotation in 2013, he’ll be on an innings limit.

      Yep, if he doesn’t pitch more than a regular reliever this year, he won’t have a full season in the rotation next year, either. Hopefully, the secret plan is to stretch him out to start mid-season.

      However, as I noted above, I do think he entered the 2012 with 5 more years of team control. I believe that Chapman is arbitration eligible after 3 years of ML service time (at beginning of ’12 he had 1 year), and the club would have him for 3 years of arbitration eligibility.

  33. @al: If I remember “Ball Four” correctly, somebody said something to the effect of “That’s how you pitch God–breaking balls away, and fastballs in.”

    A veteran like Marshall has to take full responsibility for the pitch, whether it was a bad call or missed location. He threw it, and it’s his fault if he left it where Jones could handle it.

    But if all we have to complain about is this particular bullpen, we’ll be OK this year.

  34. @Steve Mancuso – I think that someone who places such emphasis on modern analytics, this Reds organization may drive you completely insane. Baker looks at matchups and places a strong emphasis on platoon-splits but unfortunately, he uses AVG, HR, RBI to do so and also has little regard for sample size. We also know that one of the reasons for Jocketty’s departure in StL was his “old-school” style and he sure doesn’t seem to place much stock in modern analytics. Add in an owner that brought in Jocketty and clearly likes Baker and you have to think he doesn’t concern himself with bb/9, BABIP, OPS, k/9, FIP, etc.

    This all adds up to an old-school approach that probably isn’t going to change anytime soon. I wonder if the Reds even have an analytical analysis team? Does anyone know?

    I am primarily an “old-school” guy and I truly believe that stats can’t tell the whole story but it seems that this organization disregards the modern analytics completely. The tools are there for anyone to see, why not take advantage of all the info that’s available? It drives me nuts sometimes so I imagine for the “stats guys” out there, this management team is going to drive you bonkers.

  35. Frankly, I’d like to see them evaluate Marshall a starter, though not at the expense of Chapman’s not being a starter. Marshall has three plus pitches, and I think the Cubs gave up on him too quick as a starter.

  36. A name to watch for those who prefer the test of six weeks against the haul of a season. Derek Lowe is pitching like an All-Star right now. 6-2, 2.15 ERA, 58 IP. He’s doing well. BUT… the man has only 15 K’s in all of those innings and his WHIP is 1.415. If his ERA is south of 4.00 in Sept, I’ll be surprised.

  37. @Big Ed: Marshall first year in Chicago (and worst as a SP) was Baker’s last year in Chicago. I seriously doubt Baker has many found memories of that 2006 team and the roles those guys had. I would expect that he is not so petty as to continue to hold that over Marshall to this day, but he has never emphatically been on the Marshall-as-closer train.

  38. @Greg Dafler: Remember when Dusty said that he was skeptical about naming Marshall the closer because he “heard” from people in the Cubs that he can’t go a couple days in a row effectively? Don’t the Reds basically know that about Chapman?

    • @Greg Dafler: Remember when Dusty said that he was skeptical about naming Marshall the closer because he “heard” from people in the Cubs that he can’t go a couple days in a row effectively? Don’t the Reds basically know that about Chapman?

      Yes I remember that and we’ve seen over the last 2 years that Chapman tends to struggle in those situations. I don’t know how good Chapman will be as a closer.

      A couple other thoughts:
      I think that Dusty was so patient with Coco as a closer becuase Coco was signed to be the closer and because he had the track record that said he could do the job. I think he’s less patient with Marshall because he has never been sure Marshall can close games and so far Marshall hasn’t shown him he can do the job.

      As far as Chapman starting, we don’t know if he can or can’t. Maybe the Reds feel that experimenting with him as a starter is dangerous if it doesn’t work for some reason? All I know is that management seems to feel the team is better served with him in the pen right now. We as fans may not agree but I’m sure they have reasons.

  39. @LWBlogger: I’ve never quite been clear on how an “old-school” analysis would have Chapman closing. Old-school would have a bunch of has-beens in the bullpen that never even pitch, right? Or maybe that’s old-old school?

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