PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 09: Relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman #54 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the Major League Baseball game at Chase Field on April 9, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
For a pitcher who neither starts games nor finishes them, Aroldis Chapman sure does make a lot of news.
First he threw harder than maybe anyone's ever thrown. Maybe it's Chapman #1, Dalkowski #2. Or maybe it's Dalkowski #1, Chapman #2. But nobody ever pointed a JUGS gun at Dalkowski; all we've got is the legend. With Chapman, we've actually got something that says he threw 105 miles an hour.
That was last year.
This year, Chapman got off to a pretty good start. In his first dozen games, he allowed just one run while striking out a dozen hitters in a dozen innings. There were eight walks mixed in there, though, and Chapman made the news again -- if just briefly -- when he seemed to have lost his best fastball. But after a bit of rest, it was back.
Now he's making news again. And not the good kind. In Chapman's last four outings, he has faced 19 hitters and walked 12 of them.
There's really no way to sugarcoat this. He's walked 12 hitters and struck out three, and if that's not Steve Blass Disease it's Steve Blass Disease-like symptoms.
"His arm slot gets too low," Price said. "He gets across the ball. He's pulling a lot of balls inside to right-handed hitters."
Confidence can also play into it when you struggle. Chapman has walked eight batters in his last three outings and has only gotten three outs.
"I think the first part is a slight mechanical adjustment. The second part is that when he's out there, he's pitching with his confidence. When you struggle a while, you start to question yourself a little bit. I don't know that he's there, but I know it's a typical response."
Physically, Price said, Chapman is fine.
Maybe it really is just a simple mechanical adjustment. But if it's something else -- if Chapman's hurt, or if his confidence is shot -- throwing an inning of garbage relief every three or four days probably isn't the cure. Dollars to doughnuts, if he struggles in his next outing he and his 105.1 tattoo are heading back to the minors for some rest and rehabilitation.
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