Broxton, Marshall and Chapman: Modern Day Nasty Boys?
Sunday, December.9, 2012
Matt Steinmann (Guest Baseball Writer and Reds Correspondent): Follow @thesteinmann
The resigning of Jonathan Broxton is an interesting one for the Reds. The feeling is that this paves the way for Aroldis Chapman to head to the rotation. It could also just be securing the back end of a dominant bullpen from this past season that many have compared to the 1990 Nasty Boys. The Reds haven’t said for sure, which isn’t surprising considering how close-to-the-vest they operate. Like last season, Chapman will likely go into Spring Training as a starter, and the team will go from there.
The 1990 Nasty Boys were a dominant force. If the Reds had the lead after 6 innings, the trio of Norm Charlton, Rob Dibble, and Randy Myers could strike fear into even the best of hitters and close the door almost at will. Charlton struck out 117 batters in 154.1 innings (6.8 per 9 Innings). He also had 16 starts, an ERA of 2.74, and 2 saves. Dibble’s sparkling ERA of 1.74 and WHIP of 0.980 stands out among the trio. He saved 11 games as well, threw 98 Innings, striking out 136 batters (12.5 per 9 Innings). Randy Myers was the man to close the door. The hard throwing lefty converted 31 saves in 1990, had an ERA of 2.08, and struck out 98 batters in 86.2 Innings (11.3 per 9 Innings).
In 2012, the idea of having Aroldis Chapman in the starting rotation was short lived, when Free Agent closer, Ryan Madson suffered an arm injury and was out for the season in early Spring Training. Although Chapman looked good as a starter in Spring Training, out of necessity, Chapman was moved into the bullpen as a setup man, for Sean Marshall, who was given closers duties to start the season. Chapman eventually took over the role as his dominance began to shine, not only for the Reds, but in all of baseball. Although Marshall did have 9 saves in his short stint as closer, he was shaky at times. He looked much more comfortable in a setup role, which is what he was originally signed to fill. The crafty Left Hander finished the season with a 2.51 ERA (1.74 at hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark), 22 holds in 61 Innings Pitched, and struck out 74 batters (10.5 per 9 Innings).
Jonathan Broxton came to the Reds in a trade with Kansas City at the trade deadline. Although some wondered why the Reds signed a second closer, the move ended up paying dividends. Broxton stepped into the 9th inning role for a short time towards the end of the season when Chapman was temporarily shut down due to shoulder fatigue. Other than that, his role as a setup man was an effective one. Although he had 23 saves with Kansas City, he was only needed to convert 4 for Cincinnati. Although his ERA was slightly higher as a Red, his strike out rate increased dramatically and his walk rate decreased after the trade (3.5 per 9 Innings to 1.2 per 9 innings). He also had 10 holds. Down the stretch to the postseason, he was lights out, striking out 14 batters in 13 Innings, with a 0.750 WHIP, and 1.35 ERA.
Aroldis Chapman, more often than not, looked more like a video game pitcher than an actual human being, by literally blowing away the competition with a fastball that could top out at 105MPH. Throw in a slider that ranged between 88-90MPH, he was often times unhittable. Between June 26 and September 4, Chapman converted 27 consecutive saves, setting a new franchise record. He finished the season with 38 saves and 122 strikeouts in 71.2 innings pitched (15.3 per 9 Innings), and 0.809 WHIP. Control got to him at times, walking 23, but that number was significantly lower than his 41 in 2011. In April, May, and July he had an ERA of 0.00. For much of the season he was considered a Cy Young candidate, along with starter Johnny Cueto.
Sean Marshall was acquired by the Reds in Dec of 2011 in a trade with the Chicago Cubs. In 74 games and 61 Innings Pitched, in 2012 he struckout 74 batters and carried a 2.51 ERA. He is a guy good for 75-80 Appearances and a mid 2.00 ERA. Outstanding numbers for a relief pitcher looking to lock down holds for the later inning guys. Marshall is also signed for the next 3 years, so this Reds trio of fireballers, all have contracts that can run them through the 2015 year.
2013 should be an interesting season, as the Reds try to build on their 97 win season from 2012, which was followed up by an early exit in the postseason. Moving Chapman to the rotation is an intriguing idea. He was a starter in Cuba, and was signed to be a starting pitcher, but due to bullpen injury, and questions about his control, it hasn’t worked out. The idea of having a Randy Johnson type of pitcher in a rotation with Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Bronson Arroyo, and Homer Bailey is enough to make any fan drool, but with that will come the need to develop a third pitch, the ability to pace himself so he doesn’t run out of gas, and an innings limit, much like the Nationals had for starter Stephen Strasburg, who was unavailable in the postseason because of it. If the Reds leave him in the bullpen, he could continue being the most dominant closer in baseball. There is a saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Pitching and defense wins championships, as proven in 1990, when the Nasty Boys were a big reason the Reds won it all. They haven’t had bullpen like that until this past season, and with Broxton back in the fold, it has a chance to be even better. If Chapman makes the transition to the rotation, can the Reds bullpen fill that void, with guys like Sam LeCure, Jose Arredondo, Logan Ondrusek, and other role players? That’s the biggest question that Reds management needs to answer.
*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com ***
A big thank-you goes out to Matt Steinmann for preparing today’s featured article. Matt was born and raised in Cincinnati, and has been a Reds fan his entire life, along with the Bengals and the UC Bearcats. His first baseball memory was watching Pete Rose hit #4192 with his Dad and grandparents when he was 5 years old. He didn’t quite understand exactly the significance of it at the time, but it’s always stuck with him, and his love and wanting to learn about the game grew from there. Matt considers himself lucky that I was able to watch Barry Larkin play his entire Hall of Fame career in Cincinnati, so he goes down as his favorite player. Matt currently works for 700WLW radio, the Cincinnati Reds flagship station, as the producer for the early morning show. Feel free to follow Matt on Twitter and talk the game of baseball Follow @thesteinmann
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Posted on December 9, 2012, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged 1990 World Series, aroldis chapman, Bronson Arroyo, cincinnati reds, cy young, great american ballpark, homer bailey, johnny cueto, jonathan broxton, jose arredondo, logan ondrusek, matt steinmann, randy johnson, Randy Myers, rob dibble, ryan madson, sam leclure, Sean Marshall, stephen strasburg, washington nationals. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.