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The weight of the NL on Aroldis Chapman’s shoulder

  • David Whitlock

Overstatement? Maybe, maybe not. But if Aroldis Chapman’s shoulder doesn’t come around, and we have some evidence that this will take more time than they can afford, the Reds look a lot more vulnerable.  Last year when his shoulder fatigued in mid-May, it took until late June for him to come back.  The Reds can’t wait until late October, as the Cards get Carpenter back, the Giants experienced rotation is rounding into form, and the Braves can’t lose when Medlen starts. Oh, and the Nats are still the best team in baseball.

My feeling is that he won’t be the same. He’s been a “riddle” since being signed out of Cuba. Dominating in certain stretches (I mean, obliterating any K/9 metric, 1.76 per IP this year, established in the history of baseball) and the stuff to prove it.  I saw him pitch live on July 24 and it was probably the best stuff I’ve ever seen in person from a pitcher (and I’ve seen Ryan, Clemens, Randy Johnson, Smoltz, on and on).  But other stretches (in his career), he’s hittable, wild, and completely undependable to the point of demotion. We had the former up until a week ago. Now, what do you do? Do you finish the “rest” prescription (here at 14 days instead of 40), then go with him in the closers role as if he didn’t miss a beat? What happens if he gets roughed up again? More rest? Let it ride? Is he mentally worried about stressing the shoulder? What if every other outing is dominant? Brad Lidge in 2005 was outstanding every other outing. It was the “other” outings that we remember.  And a key postseason series doesn’t take a day off.

I hope I’m wrong.  He’s electric to watch.  The Reds already got a bad break with Votto’s injury.  But postseason series are literally decided in a game, and if he’s off one game, the other 162 won’t matter.

For the engineering geeks like me, here’s a Sport Science take.

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About The Author

David Whitlock

David Whitlock - manager

David (a.k.a. Longhorndave or lhd_on_sports) joined the staff late in the 2012 season and moved to Site Manager in early 2013. A lifelong Houston Astros fan (and mini-season ticket holder for 9 years) he attends 20+ games per year. A statistics freak, David still keeps score the "old fashioned way" on occasion (and has kept manual score of World Series games since 1986 and retains the sheets). He was a featured guest weekly on the Phil Naessens Show. He is also a Texas Longhorns alumnus and huge football and baseball fan of his alma mater. When he isn't watching or writing about baseball, he works as a contractor at NASA Johnson Space Center. He lives by the mantra "a bad day at the ballpark is better than a good day anywhere else."

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