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What Does the Cincinnati Reds Bullpen Look Like with Aroldis Chapman Injury?
Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher, Aroldis Chapman, took a line drive to the face on March 19th from Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez in a Spring training game just last week. It was a gruesome play that all pitchers are afraid of.
On March 20th, Chapman underwent surgery to repair fractures around his left eye. The Cincinnati Reds doctor said that Chapman could begin a work out program in 7-10 days and that Chapman will absolutely be able to pitch sometime during the 2014 season.
Chapman has been one of the more dominant closers in Major League Baseball over the last couple of years. In the past two years, Chapman is a two-time All Star and had 38 saves both seasons. He had 122 strikeouts in 71.2 innings in 2012 and in 2013 he had 112 strikeouts in a 63.2 innings.
Unfortunately, Chapman is not the only Reds reliever that has had injury concerns during the spring.
Jonathan Broxton had surgery on his right forearm in the offseason and has been rehabbing. Broxton will probably start the season on the Disabled List, but is making good progress in coming back soon. Sean Marshall has been dealing with shoulder issues since last season, and is still trying to come back but will start the season on the DL. These are two guys that could have stepped right in to the closer role, but with their injuries it looks like they are still a ways from being trusted in a closer type of role.
Looking at the depth chart that has been posted on the official Reds site, there are three names on the their bullpen list that stand out as possible stop gaps for the closer role.
The first one is Sam LeCure. LeCure has probably been the most stable guy in the bullpen for the Reds over the past couple of seasons. He had arguable his best season last year, as he appeared in 63 games and struck out 66 batters. He inherited 27 runners and only allowed three to score. LeCure is your prototypical set-up guy in the bullpen and is very comfortable in that role.
The next name on the list is J.J. Hoover who also had a really 2013 campaign. Hoover appeared in 69 games and struck out 67 batters. Opponents hit .200 off of Hoover and allowed 15 of his 36 inherited runners to score. Hoover has the look of a closer and was talked about taking over the role if Chapman was moved to the rotation.
Logan Ondrusek is the next name in line to possibly be the closer for the 2014 season. Ondrusek is an intimidating presence on the mound. He is a 6′ 8″ 230-pound left hander with really good stuff. He appeared in 52 games and struck out 53 batters, while he inherited 18 runners and only allowed four of them to score.
Reds manager Bryan Price has said that he will not be naming a closer now that Chapman will be down for some time this season. It sounds like it will be closer by committee until Chapman returns, and the Reds have plenty of options that they can turn to when the score is tight at the end of the game.
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