CHICAGO -- It's still too early to project, but don't be surprised if Aroldis Chapman is pitching once every five days as a starter for the Reds in 2012.
Chapman, the Cuban left-hander the Reds signed to a six-year, $30 million contract before the 2010 season, has been exclusively a setup reliever this season. But he was initially signed with thoughts that he would be a starter.
"With all the question marks on who's going to be with us going into next season, it's hard to say for sure," Reds pitching coach Bryan Price said on Wednesday. "I would be very confident in saying that he will absolutely get a chance to start, maybe as early as next season."
The 23-year-old Chapman, who earned the victory with 1 1/3 scoreless innings during Tuesday's 4-2 win over the Cubs in 13 innings, has a 3.71 ERA in 47 appearances. His ERA is 2.35 with 14 walks and 35 strikeouts in 31 games since his June 24 return from the disabled list.
As a starter with Triple-A Louisville last season, Chapman was 5-5 with a 4.11 ERA in 13 starts before being moved to the bullpen. He made 15 big league relief appearances down the stretch and posted a 2.03 ERA.
"Certainly, we felt going into this season that our need was in the bullpen with Chappy," Price said. "The other part was not stockpiling a ton of innings on him early in his career.
"There are a lot of benefits to him starting. No. 1, I think his growth as a pitcher will increase at a faster pace when he gets more time, more innings, more bullpen time to really focus and work on his delivery and his pitches and situational baseball."