The Cincinnati Reds entered spring training hoping to give left-hander Aroldis Chapman a shot to win…
Cueto, coming off his worst outing of the season, threw seven innings and picked up his fifth win while limiting the Yankees to two runs on eight hits. The reliable Cincinnati bullpen contributed two scoreless innings starting with Sean Marshall striking out Robinson Cano on three pitches after the leadoff batter reached base in the eighth. Logan Ondrusek finished the eighth and Aroldis Chapman pitched around an error threw scoreless ninth for his first save of the season.
Major league baseball has an abundance of statistics for both hitters and pitchers. For years ERA was one of the first numbers considered when evaluating a pitcher's effectiveness. There are others that were created to relievers specifically. Newer statistics of recent years consider finer details that are overlooked by the traditional ERA. Still, even the staunchest critic of the old ERA would have to agree on one thing: Any pitcher keeping theirs at 0.00 is having a great season. That's where Chapman is after 18 appearances this season.
There's been no shortage of excitement over the flame-throwing Chapman since the Reds signed the Cuban refugee before the 2010 season. When he made it up the big leagues later that season he did not disappoint by routinely breaking 100 m.p.h. on the radar maxing out at 106. Two questions that have surrounded the southpaw have been control and role. The first one reared its head last season when he walked 41 batters in 50 innings which prompted a midseason demotion to the minors. Thus far in 2012 he's laid that concern to rest with a K/BB ratio of 39/7 in 22+ IP.
Now in year three of a six year deal, Chapman's future role is still up for debate. Before Sunday he'd been pitching as a set-up man, the same job he's done since joining the Reds. In their series finale against the Yankees he and veteran Sean Marshall exchanged jobs and he notched the second save of his MLB career. He's dominating opposing batters in a manner that would make him a strong closer candidate on any team. Still, in the back of many minds there's an idea that he would be best utilized in the rotation. Numerous injuries to the Cincinnati bullpen this season have kept them from making any changes. In spite of those problems the Reds pen has been solid thanks to Chapman and other relievers on the Reds roster.
Ondrusek kept a 0.00 ERA of his own for 17 appearances until he allowed runs on Thursday's game against the Mets. Jose Arrendondo has a mid-2 ERA and has made 16 of his 19 appearances scoreless ones. Marshall has been striking out 1.5 hitters per inning pitched but has not been nearly as successful at preventing runs from crossing the plate. Perhaps the Reds are hoping he'll regain his form as a set-up man like he did in that role with the Cubs before coming to Cincinnati in an offseason trade. Alfredo Simon has added depth by keeping a 2.30 ERA since joining the team after being waived by the Orioles. Even J.J. Hoover has not allowed a run in 8 of 9 appearances since he was called up from Louisville.
The reliability of the pen has been a pleasant surprise to the Reds who have seen Nick Massett and projected closer Ryan Madson spend the entire season on the DL. Bill Bray joined them after five ineffective appearances. Madson will miss a year with Tommy John surgery while Massett and Bray are both expected back this season. Their return will likely instigate more speculation of Chapman as a starter. The performance of the pitchers in the back end of the rotation from now until then will determine the need. For now Reds fans have good reason to expect that the Cuban Missile will continue his dominance closing out games.
News from the Farm:
Louisville won its second in a row with a 7-3 decision at Lehigh Valley. Daniel Dorn went 3-4 with two doubles. The Bats took a 6-0 with five in the sixth including a grand slam by Neftali Soto. Pedro Villarreal won his second game since he was promoted from Pensacola. He has a 3.32 ERA in three AAA starts. Jordan Smith picked up his third save.
Penascola took a 3-0 lead before losing 4-3 at Jacksonville. Brodie Greene, Josh Fellhauer, and Mark Fleury each had two of the Wahoo's nine hits. Daniel Corcino had a quality start by limiting the Suns to two runs on four hits before leaving the game with a lead after six innings. He struck out nine while walking only two. Clayton Tanner lost his third of the season.
After winning a 16-inning game at Lake Elsinore on Saturday Bakersfield came out flat in a series opener at Visalia and lost 8-0. The Blaze only mustered two hits on the day. Daniel Renken allowed five runs before being lifted in the fifth and took the loss.
Billy Hamilton Theft Watch:
Hamilton reached base on a walk in the ninth while trailing 8-0. He advanced to second on another walk and then to third on a wild pitch. He has 40 steals in 40 games.
Dayton lost a 4-1 lead before winning 6-4 win over visiting Great Lakes. Ryan Wright had three hits to raise his average to .292. Juan Perez, Steve Selsky, and Sean Buckley added two hits each including Buckley's third home run. Tanner Robles allowed four runs in five innings but hung around long enough to get his third win. Kyle McMyne retired the side in the ninth for his fourth save. He has not allowed a run in 13 of his 16 appearances and now has a 1.16 ERA.
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