The Reds could get Aroldis Chapman back as early as Friday night, and not a moment too soon.
To this point, Cincinnati’s bullpen has by and large been a disaster. The bullpen numbers read 2-9 with a 4.52 ERA, which ranks 14th out of the 15 teams in the National League. The Reds have blown six of 11 save opportunities.
Jonathan Broxton is a perfect five for five in saves, but the remaining Reds are one for six. Three of those blown saves belong to J.J. Hoover, who faced four batters Wednesday night in Cincinnati’s 4-3 loss at Boston and failed to retire a single one. Hoover is 1-3 in 12 appearances, with a 9.32 ERA.
True, Chapman was knocked around pretty hard in his last two rehab appearances at Louisville since taking a line drive to head on March 19. On Tuesday night, Chapman allowed five runs on four hits in two-thirds of an inning. He threw 33 pitches but had a walk and a wild pitch. On Wednesday afternoon, Chapman allowed three runs on three hits in a third of an inning. He also walked a better and threw 21 pitches.
Chapman said afterward that he just needs better command of his fastball. He also said that he pitched without fear, and that’s a good sign. After suffering fractures above his left eye and nose, Chapman’s mental state is surely a concern.
Meanwhile, the Reds are 5-11 in one-run games. Lack of offense has hurt, but bullpen problems haven’t helped. Having Chapman back and effective would allow Bryan Price to move Broxton back to an eighth-inning set-up role.