Big Heat

On August 31, 2010, the Reds brought up from the minors one of their highlighted pitching prospects. Aroldis Chapman, a 22-year old rookie from Cuba, took the mound and, with much hype & interest, blew away 3 batters with 8 pitches. The fastest pitch he threw?

Only 103 mph.

103 mph?!? And you know what? That was slow for him.

The week before he was clocked throwing the ball at 105 mph in a minor league game in Louisville.

105 mph?!? And they said it couldn’t be done…

Earlier this year, pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg of the Washington Nationals was on every page of every sports magazine for his ability to crank out 103 mph heaters. And now he’s undergoing Tommy John surgery. So where does that leave Mr. Big Heat?

Well…the human arm really isn’t supposed to be whipping itself at odd angles at such a high rate of speed. We’re not really built that way. So it’s not surprising when a fastball pitcher blows out his arm. It’s a fast way to a short shelf life. But the difference between Strasburg & Chapman is this…Chapman’s a reliever. He doesn’t HAVE to throw 100 pitches every 5th night. So when he comes in, he can throw as hard as he wants and as often as he wants and pretty much get away with it for maybe 20 pitches. Even on a bad night, if a reliever goes 20 deep there’s something wrong and he shouldn’t be in there to begin with. A starter throws under 80 and then you have a problem.

So Aroldis Chapman has arrived in Cincinnati. Big Heat looked pretty damn good last night and having him in the bullpen can’t hurt this hot Cincinnati team that is poised to make the playoffs this year. Everything seems to be clicking with Joey Votto, Scott Rolen and a great cast of young talent that has been winning at an amazing clip. And having Big Heat in the bullpen ain’t gonna hurt them none, that’s for sure. So Aroldis Chapman made his debut. The crowd cheered and then, 8 pitches later, it was the top of the 9th. Not bad for a first start!

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