The Kansas City Royals went on a two-year World Series run with their bullpen being their key asset. The Los Angeles Dodgers are trying to match that in the biggest way possible by acquiring flamethrower reliever Aroldis Chapman from the Cincinnati Reds on Monday. It’s not official yet, but they are close.
By paring of Chapman with incumbent closer Kenley Jansen, the Dodgers are looking to shut down the final two innings of the game in spectacular fashion. They would have two of the highest strikeout pitchers ever in their bullpen. Chapman has struck out 15.4 batters per nine innings pitched in his career — the highest strikeout rate in Major League Baseball history (100 innings pitched minimum) — Jansen strikeouts 14.0 batter per nine innings pitched, which is third on the all-time list.
Most teams go into the Baseball Winter Meetings looking to turn at least one of last year’s fatal weakness into a strength. The Dodgers, however, are trying to make one of their strengths stronger. Last season, the Dodgers bullpen ranked second in MLB in strikeout percentage at 26 percent. Meanwhile in Cincinnati, Chapman led all pitcher with a strikeout rate of 42 percent. The crazy thing is that 2015 was a down season by Chapman’s standards. 42 percent was actually his lowest strikeout rate since 2011.
Watching Chapman strikeout the side in the All-Star Game made the entire trip to Cincinnati worth it. That, and Reds third baseman Todd Fraizer winning the most exciting home run derby in history in front of the hometown fans. The reason why Chapman is so dominant and spectacular is his fastball and how it breaks the radar gun. Of the 573 pitches thrown by pitchers last season that reached 100 miles per hour or more, 337 of them came from the long cannon of Chapman. Opposing batters have managed to hit only .121 against Chapman in at-bats that ended with a fastball that reached 100 miles per hour.
As a testament to how dominant Champman is, Royals reliever Kelvin Herrera has 34 strikeouts on pitches that hit triple digits, good for the second highest total in baseball since 2010, Chapman’s debut season. Chapman has the most by 202.
The Boston Red Sox are elated by the acquisition of closer Craig Kimbrel earlier in the offseason. He is the only reliever who held opponents to a lower slugging percentage than Chapman since 2010. Chapman, however, has held opponents to a .154 batting average in his career, which is the lowest in baseball since.
Since 2010, Chapman ranks sixth in saves (146) and ninth in WHIP (1.02). His WHIP is his WHIP but the saves total are impressive considering he played on a team that reached the postseason half the time. Being on the Dodgers, who have reached the postseason in each of the last three seasons, had a bullpen ERA of 3.87 in 2015, which was good for 11th in the National League but the highest among NL postseason qualifiers. By they acquiring Chapman, the Dodgers will be very hard to comeback on next year.