Colorado Rockies pitcher Jhoulys Chacin was optioned to Triple-A Colorado Springs Thursday evening. The team in a press release announced the move Wednesday evening, but it will be formalized prior to Friday’s game against the Atlanta Braves.
It was just a matter of time for the right-handed pitcher from Maracaibo, Venezuela, until he heard that he would be wearing a Sky Sox uniform. His numbers are certainly unworthy of a Major League starter: 0-3 with a 7.30 ERA, product of 20 earned runs in 24.2 innings pitched in five starts.
This would be the first time Chacin returns to the Minors since 2010, when he pitched 35.2 frames for Colorado Springs until he was made a permanent part of the Rockies roster ever since.
At first sight, anyone reading Chacin’s stats during 2011 would be shocked to learn about the developments. After all, he was the franchise’s leader in wins (11), innings pitched (194.0) and ERA (3.62).
But we all know that Chacin went to extremes: he had a 8-7 record with a 3.16 ERA in 18 games during the first half, and then command issues started to show up. He was only able to win three contests during the second half. His September record of 0-4 made it even worse.
Spring Training was also full of struggles, winning just one game and losing three, with an alarming 5.63 ERA, allowing 17 earned runs in 26.1 frames.
It would be easy to say this was the product of being careless and free during the off-season. All those rumors circulating during the winter, and which Chacin put to rest in a very professional manner, certainly didn’t help. But there’s more than that.
Seeing him on the mound this day can be painful for Rockies fans. He certainly doesn’t look like that menacing pitcher with poise and makeup we saw during early 2011. His velocity is certainly down, hardly reaching 90 MPH. The rest of his repertoire is still there, but without an effective fastball there isn’t much a starting pitcher can do. Tuesday’s outing against the Dodgers, a team he used to dominate in earlier contests, was the currency Chacin used to buy a bus ticket to Colorado Springs: 7 earned runs in 4.2 innings were the last straw.
Beyond all the health issues (even less the finger blister he had to deal with briefly in the Spring), one thing is sure: Chacin is still a very talented youngster at 24 years of age, who used to be on the verge of becoming a MLB ace. That is not the product of sheer luck.
Chacin needs the time at Colorado Springs, and realize what is going on. He has always said his main goals at every start have been reducing his pitch count and throwing more strikes. He has achieved neither: 112 throws in his last appearance, 63 of those strikes are definitely not signs of going in the right direction.
Chacin was supposed to be one of the cornerstones of a Rockies rotation that we all knew was going to provide a lot of headaches along the way. Beyond the fact if it’s fair or not for him to be thrown into such a role at this early stage of his career is out of the question. This is what we have, and he must deal with it.
This was the best move for Chacin and the Rockies to make. His past behavior lead us to think he will take it humbly and graciously. He took the heat from reporters after last night’s game and didn’t avoid any questions. And with that same humility, he will need to figure out the puzzle that so far has washed his talent away from the mound, now in Colorado Springs instead of 20th and Blake.