Towards the end of Spring Training last season, the Astros made a seemingly meaningless deal. They dealt two players, Jason Bourgeois and Humberto Quintero, who had been decent contributors but just did not have a place on the roster going forward.
Coming to Houston in the deal was minor league left handed reliever Kevin Chapman. Prior to the trade, Chapman was a professional for two seasons and had not pitched above AA. He had experienced limited success pitching out of the bullpen, but always showed a knack for striking hitters out.
Last season, Chapman spent the entire year in AA appearing in 49 games and pitching 58 innings with a 2.64 ERA and 59 strikeouts. That led to a promotion to AAA for 2013, and Chapman continued his success with the RedHawks.
Chapman appeared in 45 games with Oklahoma City pitching in 50.2 innings while striking out 61 batters and logging a 3.20 ERA. However, the one problem with the left hander is that his WHIP this season was 1.54. That is the one thing that can hold Chapman back.
After being promoted about a week ago, Chapman has essentially been unstoppable. Going into Wednesday’s game, Chapman has appeared in eight games pitching in 5.1 innings. He has allowed two runs, neither of them earned, while giving up one hit (which was a home run), and hitting one batter.
Chapman has only struck out two batters, but both of them were Josh Hamilton over the weekend against the Angels with each of them coming in a big spot.
Perhaps Chapman can succeed where Wesley Wright failed by becoming that dominating left handed specialist that every bullpen needs.