Wednesday Rockpile: How Do You Solve A Problem Like Jhoulys?

DENVER, CO - MAY 01: Manager Jim Tracy #4 of the Colorado Rockies removes starting pitcher Jhoulys Chacin #45 of the Colorado Rockies from the game in the fifth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Coors Field on May 1, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Jhoulys Chacin has been awful this year -- to the tune of an 0-3 record, 7.30 ERA, and a hideous 1.86 WHIP. The fundamentals aren't good either -- while his K/9 is up around 8, his BB/9 has risen to 5.5, his GB% (usually a big asset) has dipped to only 40%, he's allowed 7 homers already, and his 6.91 FIP shows he's mostly deserved these poor stats.

Furthermore, Chacin has only pitched 24.2 innings in 5 starts (~5 per), which necessitates the bullpen picking up the slack as they did last night. A top of the rotation starter, which Chacin is ostensibly supposed to be, needs to have a lot more length than that. Normally I'd be all Small Sample Size, but Chacin's been a different, hittable pitcher since the 2nd half of last year (as Renck notes, he's 3-13 with a 5.14 ERA in his last 21 starts). The results were still pretty good but the WHIP jumped up from 1.15 to 1.55...and now up to 1.86 in 2012.

This is a problem, because Chacin was seen as the one certainty in Colorado's rotation during this past off-season, in which the Rockies had about 17 rotation options. Also, he's killing my fantasy team. As a result, Troy Renck in no uncertain terms is calling for Chacin to be demoted to AAA, making several convincing arguments that Chacin is not the elite starter he was in 2010 and early 2011. He also details some options for replacing Chacin. On the other hand, Drew Pomeranz isn't setting the world on fire either and is also a demotion candidate, while Jeremy Guthrie's injury also complicates matters. If it's going to happen, I'd like to see what a healthy Alex White can do.

That's a pretty bold statement about a pitcher that was the best pitcher on the staff at age 23. Do I think that Chacin is one of Colorado's 5 best pitchers right now? Yes I do, but if a couple of starts in AAA can get his head right (given the offensive environment in the PCL, I'm not holding my breath), then it could be a worthy exercise. Before the season, this was unthinkable to me, but last night's performance was not encouraging to say the least.

When considering what to do next with Chacin, it's very important to note that he's a young cost controlled pitcher that until recently was among the best in Rockies history. It's very tough to acquire this kind of asset, so Colorado really needs to be careful with how they manage Chacin over the next few months so they don't have another Ubaldo Jimenez situation on their hands.


Jorge On The Way Back

According to Renck, Jorge De La Rosa will begin his minor league rehab assignment tonight in Modesto. The plan is for Jorge to get two starts each in Modesto, Tulsa, and Colorado Springs before reaching the big leagues sometime in early June. Renck also has injury updates on Josh Outman among others.

Other Rockies Links

Per Thomas Harding, Wilin Rosario is learning a lot at the major league level.

Bradley Woodrum of Fangraphs writes that Jamie Moyer has been Colorado's ace so far. This is a pretty sad indictment of Colorado's starting pitching, even if Moyer has pitched surprisingly well considering the circumstances.

Finally, Fangraphs looks at some change of scenery candidates from this past off-season, including Ian Stewart, Tyler Colvin, and Chris Iannetta.

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