After averaging a measly 94.4 mph on 23 pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday, dominant Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman will be shelved for roughly a week to combat shoulder fatigue.
The 6-foot-4, 200 pound Chapman (5-5, 1.60 ERA), who defected from Cuba in 2009 and signed a six-year contract worth $30.25 million with the Reds on January 10, 2010, also walked three of the five batters that stepped to the plate in the 10th inning before being yanked by Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker.
“A little of bit of fatigue,” said Chapman, 24, who has gone 11-8 with a 2.40 ERA while amassing 209 strikeouts in 131 frames since making his major league debut. “For a couple games back, I feel like I haven’t been myself. I felt a lot of fatigue. I don’t think it’s anything major. I just feel weak.”
The two-time Delivery Man of the Month Award winner, who gunned the fastest recorded pitch in MLB history at 105.1 mph in 2010, said his arm has been weakened for a couple of outings now.
“It affects the speed,” said Chapman, whose heater has slowed from an average of 100.3 mph in 2010 to 97.7 mph this season. “If the muscle is fatigued, you don’t have the strength you want.”
“The Cuban Missile,” whose whiffed 119 batters in 67.2 innings since April, has been loosely mentioned as a candidate in this year’s Cy Young race.
At 87-57 and 11.5 games up on the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Central Division, the Reds have zero reason to press Chapman and absolutely made the correct choice to rest their lefty flamethrower.
In stark contrast to the asinine coddling exhibited by the New York Yankees with Joba Chamberlain, and the Washington Nationals with Stephen Strasburg, the Reds have handled Chapman in a nearly perfect manner.
Hence, when playoff baseball arrives in “The Queen City” this October, a healthy Aroldis Chapman could be one of the key players to help guide the Reds to their sixth World Series title in franchise history.by