SAN DIEGO -- For fans that watched "Chapman's comet" zoom through the air Friday night, it turned out they saw something extra special.
Reds lefty sensation Aroldis Chapman's 105.1-mph pitch to Tony Gwynn in the eighth inning was the fastest speed ever reliably recorded on the Pitch/FX system. When 105 appeared on the scoreboard, PETCO Park echoed with a collective 'Ooooh.'
The previous high was 104.8 mph from the Tigers' Joel Zumaya on Oct. 10, 2006, vs. Frank Thomas of the A's.
Reds manager Dusty Baker said Saturday it was the best he'd seen Chapman throw in his 11 big league games. All 25 of Chapman's pitches to San Diego were 100 mph or higher.
Nights like that will no doubt increase the speculation that Chapman should be installed as the Reds closer, a position currently held by Francisco Cordero, who is signed through next season and will make $12 million.
"Last night, was after four or five days off too," Baker said. "That is something we've come to learn. He went three days in a row and he was a little tender and we had to shut him down. This is something new to him and his arm too. Sometimes your closer has to be able to go three, four, five days in a row. He's in the process. He's learning."
The prevailing thoughts from the Reds' front office have been that Chapman would likely return to a starting role in 2011. But then again ...
"I didn't say that," Baker said. "I haven't seen him enough to know what to make him yet. We discussed him relieving about halfway through the season. He's learning how to do that. He's been very, very valuable to us in that role. I know everyone wants me to give him the closing role, but not yet."