Aroldis Chapman's September: A blip that can be nipped

Chapman at rest?

You've heard by now that Aroldis Chapman's velocity is down. It's supposed to be an emergency when Chapman's fastball is Homer Bailey's on a good day. But let's not forget he also struggled mightily with his control last night. It suggests a pitcher who's tired or having some minor mechanical problems -- or both.

After averaging 98 mph on his fastball, 65% strikes and 2.25 BB/9 through the end of August, here are his four outings in September:

Date IP Avg FB velo BB Strike%
9/2 1.0 97.6 0 56%
9/4 1.0 98.0 1 60%
9/7 1.0 97.0 0 74%
9/10 0.2 95.4 3 31.8%

When I look at these numbers, I still just see a blip. In Chapman's outing on 9/7 he gave up a 3-run jack to Matt Dominguez, but he was also in the strikezone and close to his average velocity. He gave up two bloops and a 98 mph mistake pitch.

Two outings of decreased velocity technically makes a trend - in that you can connect them with a line - but last night was the first outing where he's really been off his game both locating and charging up his fastball. If Chapman is fully physically healthy, it's hard to know what just one game can tell us.

Chapman has thrown 67.2 innings, just 5.2 above his total (MLB & minors) in 2011 and well below his total from 2010. No smoking gun there. If there is anything about his workload that's informative, it might come from June and July of this season.

Chapman made appearances in 15 of July's 31 days, throwing his most innings and facing his most batters of any month this season. He also had a five day rest before his first outing in July. Chapman crossed the half-way point of the season with a heavy workload, yet was electric.

That workload could be catching up with him now. And as he did after his struggles in June, Chapman deserves a 5+ day rest. The Reds can easily weather it, with 10 other arms in the bullpen, two of them "closer-caliber," and magic number of 12.

If Chapman gets a breather - and maybe a mechanical correction too - I don't think there's any reason not to be very excited to watch him pitch in October.

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