After a 2022 season in which flamethrower Cuban closer Aroldis Chapman had a 4.46 ERA, 4.57 FIP, and only had nine saves, Chapman signed a deal with the Kansas City Royals and has looked like his prime self. Holding a 1.74 ERA, 0.58 FIP, and one save, and he is also producing a positive fWAR (0.6).
When looking at pitch usage for Aroldis, he used his split-finger 14.9% of the time in 2022 and has now moved away from it in 2023 only using it 8% of the time. A big part of what made Aroldis Chapman one of the best relievers in baseball was the velocity at which he threw the baseball. Chapman has reached a velocity of 103 MPH this season, something he hadn’t done consistently in years.
A big change we see in Chapman was the strikeout dominance he had. The Cuban is currently posting a 16.55 K/9 which is the highest it has been since the 2020 season. Chapman has completely wiped out the flyballs this season. From allowing a 10.0% FB/HR rate in 2022, to now only allowing a 0.0% FB/BB rate, the flamethrower is back and it couldn’t be better for him.
A big issue in the past couple of seasons was the walks. In 2022, Chapman had a 6.94 BB/9. With better overall stuff and more strikeouts, the Cuban is now walking guys at a 2.61 BB/9.
If there is one current reliever that will be the prized possession of the 2023 trade deadline, it’ll be the 35-year-old Cuban. Teams such as the Marlins, Mets, Orioles, and Astros can use a reliever like Chapman. The question becomes, what his value is and which team he can end up going to if dealt in 2023. He is currently on a one-year deal worth $3.75M, so the price is cheap and very much worth it if he continues this reign of dominance.