The hardest thrower among major-league pitchers is a man who left behind his parents, siblings and a newborn daughter to defect from Cuba.
When Aroldis Chapman arrived in America, he drowned his sorrows in passionate pursuit of the exotic life: fast cars, tawdry nightclubs, wide-ranging extravagance.
He began walking a very fine line between good times and trouble, and here's why Dusty Baker's managerial skills run far deeper than his critics realize. Yes, he made Chapman a reliever because he's a two-pitch guy (fastball, slider) built for the short haul. But Baker also wanted to get the kid off the streets at a decent hour - ready to pitch every night, if necessary, instead of every fifth day.
And when Baker informed Chapman of his decision, the two men spoke in Spanish.
Chapman's work this season, giving a whole new meaning to "lights out," was a big reason behind the Reds' dominance of the Central Division.
The numbers are almost frightening to behold: 71 2/3 innings, 122 strikeouts, 35 hits, 1.51 ERA, zero earned runs allowed until June 7. "I've never seen anything like this," Baker said around midseason. "I remember the Nasty Boys (of the early-'90s Reds), but this guy is better. He comes in throwing 100 miles an hour, and he comes in throwing strikes."
Essentially, if the Reds have a lead and Chapman is on his game, it's over. One can only imagine Aubrey Huff, Brandon Crawford or even Brandon Belt trying to solve this lefty with the game on the line - and right-handed hitters don't have much of a chance, either.
There's fast and then there's Chapman
San Francisco Chronicle | Oct 5