The NL Central has often been a home for high-quality, high-velocity relief pitchers. On Monday, one of them returned to the division for the third time.
Flamethrowing reliever Aroldis Chapman is coming back in the NL Central after reportedly agreeing to a deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The move was reported earlier this evening by FanSided's MLB insider Robert Murray.
Brewers fans likely remember Chapman from his time pitching for a couple of different division rivals. His first such stint came with the Cincinnati Reds for whom he began his career and pitched with for six seasons from 2010 to 2015.
It didn't take long for Chapman to make a name for himself with the Reds. In 324 games with the club, he compiled a 2.17 ERA and 146 saves. He also was named to four NL All-Star teams and took eighth in the NL Cy Young voting in 2012.
Chapman would be traded to the New York Yankees prior to the 2016 season, but it wouldn't be long before he would end up right back in the division. At the trade deadline of the very same season, he would be dealt to the Chicago Cubs. He would end up both blowing the save and earning the win in the team's Game 7 World Series clinching victory that year.
The 14-year MLB veteran has played in the American League every since, mostly with the Yankees before spending last season with the Royals and World Series winning Rangers. He has now pitched in 728 games and has a career 2.53 ERA and is tied for 21st all time with 321 career saves.
Chapman gives the Pirates a very formidable 1-2 punch at the back end of the team's bullpen as he joins current closer David Bednar. The latter led the NL in saves in 2023 with 39 and has a career 2.65 ERA in five MLB seasons. He also finished third to Brewers closer Devin Williams for the 2023 NL Reliever of the Year award.
Though he's declined somewhat in recent years, Brewers fans better hope that Chapman doesn't return to his old ways against the Crew. In 45 previous appearances against Milwaukee, the lefty has a miniscule 0.63 ERA, 0.535 WHIP, and 16.5 strikeouts per nine innings.
While the Pirates added some firepower to the back end of the bullpen, the trick will be getting the ball to them with the lead. Still, combined with some other moves, it seems like Pittsburgh will be trying to put a better foot forward on the mound in 2024.