Reds closer Aroldis Chapman threw 12 pitches against the Marlins last Thursday. Ten were 100 miles per hour or higher; the slowest was 98.
Chapman threw 14 pitches Sunday in Philadelphia. None registered 100 mph, according to MLB.com game data. And all but four of them were 97 or below.
Chapman blew save opportunities in both games. Sunday, he issued a leadoff walk to Delmon Young (who is famous for his impatience at the plate) and allowed consecutive home runs to an unlikely duo – Erik Kratz and Freddy Galvis.
What could explain the drop in velocity and effectiveness, despite two days of rest?
Maybe it was something he ate.
Rickie Ricardo, a Spanish-language broadcaster for the Phillies, told Philadelphia’s Sportsradio 94WIP that many Cuban players ask him during the season to pick up a popular Cuban pastry from a bakery near his home in Union City, N.J. Chapman – now in his fourth major league season after defecting from Cuba – asked Ricardo for two 50-count boxes after Friday’s game, Ricardo said.
Ricardo described the pastries as having a flaky crust, with cream cheese and guava baked inside. Apparently, they aren’t a light snack. “If you eat more than two of these, you’re clogging up your arteries,” Ricardo told the radio station. “You’re a stroke waiting to happen.”
Or perhaps a blown save waiting to happen.
“When I saw him on Sunday morning before the game, he was in the clubhouse and had just eaten about 18 of them,” Ricardo told Sportsradio 94WIP. “He couldn’t breathe. I looked at my partner and said, ‘He’s ripe for the taking today.’”
Was that really why the Phillies walked off with the 3-2 win? We may never know. One Reds official said Monday that Chapman “was not ill yesterday and is not ill today.” So, at the very least, the explanation hasn’t been accepted as fact within the Reds’ clubhouse.
The proof will be in whether Chapman orders another batch when the Reds come to Philadelphia next year.