Aroldis Chapman: Sleeper for Saves

AOL Fanhouse reported today that the Reds intend to use fire-balling lefty Aroldis Chapman out of the bullpen in 2011. This could mean some cheap saves for fantasy owners.

Aroldis Chapmanphoto © 2010 Dirk | more info (via: Wylio)

We all know about Chapman’s blazing fastball, but it’s the effectiveness of that heater in short stints that will make him easy to roster this coming season. While in the minor leagues, and back in Cuba for that matter, Chapman the starter had continual problems with control. As a starter in 2010, Chapman walked 5.5 batters per nine innings; not a good number at all. However, that number decreased when the Reds moved him to the pen full-time. In his 13.1 major league innings, Chapman walked five batters, which isn’t great, but not bad either.

As a reliever, Chapman can “let it loose”, “fire away”, “let the big dog eat”, whatever. He should rack up some serious strikeout numbers no matter what. Small sample size noted, it’s a good sign to see that major league hitters did not have an easy time making contact off of Chapman in his 13.1 innings. Opposing hitters whiffed 33.3 percent of the time and when they did make contact, more often than not they didn’t make very good contact (only three line drives to 19 ground balls).

The key here is a possible opportunity in Cincinnati. While Francisco Cordero has the closers job right now, his numbers have regressed pretty badly in the last two seasons. As a matter of fact, Cordero’s strikeout rate has decreased for four straight seasons and his whiff rate has regressed from 35.5 percent to 19.5 in those four years. He also hasn’t held a BB/9 under four since 2007. The Reds hold a $12 option on his contract for 2012, but it’s very likely that the do not pick it up. This means that 1) there is no incentive to keep Cordero in the closer’s role if he is performing poorly and 2) if he is performing well, he becomes instant trade bait (could be trade bait either way).

The bottom line is this: Chapman will come cheap on draft day (current ADP of 323) and he could give your team 80-100 strikeouts with a good ERA even if he doesn’t close. The realistic chance for him to get some cheap saves in Cincy in 2011 makes him an even more attractive late round pick.

Draft him for the K’s, hope for the SV’s