Justin Verlander or Craig Kimbrel? Those two names are pretty common amongst fans of Major League Baseball as being the top starting pitcher and top relief pitcher/closer, respectively, in the sport. The Cincinnati Reds are just one of a number of MLB teams that are going through the process of converting one of their top young pitchers, Aroldis Chapman, from the bullpen to the starting rotation. It is far and away the most discussed topic related to the 2012 National League Central Division Champions this spring. There are a number of individuals who fall on the side of converting Chapman to a starting pitcher, and an even greater number who believe he needs to stay in the bullpen as the team’s closer.
About a month ago, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com wrote about this very subject related to whether or not it could work. Although Crasnick compares and contrasts why moving Chapman could and could not work, the question that still sparks the debate is: Would you rather have a dominant starting pitcher or a dominant closer?
The thing is, in-depth baseball fans know that this question is ludicrous. It is difficult to win a championship in baseball without having a dominant starting pitcher. Will Aroldis Chapman be that front of the rotation type starting pitcher? He certainly has the makeup to be one. It is the non-physical factors that will determine if he will be successful at it.
Simply put, Chapman needs to be in the rotation. He has too much talent and too much potential not to be in it. The easy fallback option, if he does not succeed, is to put him right back in the role in which he dominated opposing hitters in 2012. Some scouts believe the Reds should not mess with what made them successful last year, according to Crasnick’s article. The thing is, any team can succeed with a dominant closer and an average starting rotation, but teams that win championships have a top shelf ace of their rotation. So relating to Chapman, what do you want from him, Verlander or Kimbrel? Verlander should be the easy choice.