NEW YORK, NY: Aroldis Chapman of the Cincinnati Reds piches against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on in the Bronx borough of New York City. Reds defeated the Yankees 6-5. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Sean Marshall's out, and "The Cuban Missile" is in as Cincinnati's closer, according to manager Dusty Baker.
The bullpenization of Aroldis Chapman seems to be complete.
For now, anyway.
Sunday against the Yankees, the Cincinnati Reds left-hander picked up the first conventional, ninth-inning save of his major-league career. After the game, manager Dusty Baker acknowledged that Chapman has taken over from Sean Marshall as the Reds' closer. Mark Sheldon (via MLB.com):
"I talked with him about a week ago and asked if he was mentally or emotionally ready in case this decision comes down," Baker said. "He told me he was."
Chapman faced four batters and used 15 pitches -- all fastballs in the 96-99-mph range. One batter reached on an error and the final batter -- Andruw Jones -- struck out on a 98-mph heater.
It was Chapman's second career save, with the other coming in a 13-inning game at St. Louis on July 6, 2011. He had eight saves for Triple-A Louisville in 2010.
"Either inning for me is the same," Chapman said of the eighth and ninth via interpreter. "I never feel extra pressure. Maybe one day when things get complicated, I could get some pressure."
There was some real consideration this spring, as there has been in other springs, of Chapman as a starting pitcher for the Reds. But they've never been able to quite pull the trigger, even after Chapman showed vastly improved control as a starter this spring. Now, with him taking over as Dusty Baker's ninth-inning guy, it's hard to imagine Chapman leaving the bullpen at any point in the foreseeable future.
Which is probably fine, especially if No. 5 starter Mike Leake (0-5, 6.21) starts pitching better.