Chapman ties Reds record with 23rd straight save

Chapman ties Reds record with 23rd straight save

Chapman ties Reds record with 23rd straight save
PHILADELPHIA -- For a guy who had no designs on being a reliever, or even a closer, coming into this season, Reds All-Star pitcher Aroldis Chapman has quickly become the best closer in the business.

In the Reds' 3-2 win over the Phillies on Wednesday, Chapman closed the ninth inning for Bronson Arroyo and recorded his 31st save. The 24-year-old also notched his 23rd straight save to tie the club's consecutive-saves record held by both John Franco (1988) and Rob Dibble (1991).

"I didn't know anything. I just found out," Chapman said. "They just told me when they gave me the lineup card that I tied the record. I'm happy. I'm proud and feel very happy to help the team."

Chapman had his lower left leg on ice after he was hit by Ty Wigginton's broken bat on an RBI single. The Cuban said he was not bothered by the incident and should be OK.

Over 58 games, Chapman has a 1.31 ERA and one less hit (30) than he has saves over 62 innings. The triple-digit-velocity left-hander didn't even become the closer until May 20.

"I went to the bullpen and did the job they told me to. Then I became a closer and did my job as a closer," said Chapman, via interpreter Tomas Vera. "It started getting as it is now. I started liking it. Now I know if one day, I have to be a closer, I know I can do it. Right now, I'm really liking what I'm doing."

Injuries to Ryan Madson, Nick Masset and Bill Bray decimated the bullpen in Spring Training and forced the Reds' hand into using Chapman in a relief role. Would he want to have another chance to start in 2013, or would he now prefer being a closer? Chapman left that answer open-ended.

"I don't know," he replied. "At this time, all that goes through my mind is to be a closer. After this, I don't know what could happen. In my mind right now, I am a closer."

National League hitters are batting .120 vs. Chapman, and his ERA vs. NL clubs is 0.32. His ability to shut down a game was on full display during Tuesday's 5-4 win over the Phillies. The Reds' bullpen blew leads in both the seventh and eighth innings, but Chapman shut the door in the ninth. His final batter, Chase Utley, struck out on a 102-mph fastball.

There was a two-week span in June when Chapman was very human, going 0-4 with two blown saves over a seven-game stretch. But he hasn't blown a save since June 24 vs. the Twins.

"Nothing really happened. I had a bad time," Chapman said. "I don't remember what has made the difference. I just had bad games and they all came in a row."

Getting used to pitching on back-to-back days, and occasionally three straight days, was a process for Chapman. But he feels more durable as the season nears its stretch run.

"I feel like now my arm feels good and I bounce back well," Chapman said. "I feel good. I recuperate real fast."