DENVER -- Tyler Chatwood is still learning how to pitch. I had the opportunity to talk with the 23 year-old right-hander yesterday afternoon, and he confirmed that he basically hadn't started pitching until he was drafted by the Angels in the 2nd round of the 2008 draft.
"I pitched maybe 10 games in high school", Chatwood said.
Just three years later he was in the big leagues, making 25 starts for Los Angeles and throwing 142 innings of 4.75 ERA, 1.66 WHIP ball. Chatwood was having a blast playing for the team he'd followed growing up in Southern California. Then he was traded to the Rockies for catcher Chris Iannetta after the 2011 season.
"It sucked at first", Chatwood admitted to me, "But when I got over here I really liked the atmosphere and the people, so no complaints at all".
After a 2012 season that saw Chatwood being shuttled from the bullpen to the starting rotation, from AAA to the big leagues, he's really found his groove as a starter this season after coming up as an injury replacement for Jhoulys Chacin in April.
"Just knowing myself", Chatwood replied when asked about what had helped him turn the corner. "Throwing strikes...getting better every time I go out there".
In 12 starts this year, Chatwood has pitched at least 6 innings in 8 of them, 7 of which have been quality starts (at least 6 IP, 3 or fewer runs allowed) on the way to a 5-3 record with a gaudy 2.56 ERA in 70 1/3 innings pitched.
In six starts at Coors Field this year, Chatwood has a 2-1 record but a 4.01 ERA and 1.66 WHIP - as opposed to his sterling 3-2, 1.23 ERA, 0.95 WHIP line on the road this year.
"I think wherever you pitch, you've got to make good pitches and get in a good count", Chatwood said when pressed about the challenge of pitching in Coors. "I throw my slider more here than I do my curveball, but I still throw that quite a bit here too".
In any case, Chatwood's emergence as a consistently good starting pitcher has been one of the most positive developments the Rockies have had this season. Along with Jhoulys Chacin and Jorge De La Rosa, Chatwood has been part of a top 3 of the rotation that has already produced 10.9 rWAR this year between them. That makes them the best in MLB in that regard, believe it or not.
If Colorado can continue to get results out of Juan Nicasio, that's a pretty decent playoff rotation right there - but first, the Rockies have to climb out of a 3.5 game hole and survive 65 more games to get there.
Opposing Chatwood and the Rockies today will be journeyman Edwin Jackson. The 29 year-old right-hander hasn't been sharp for the Cubs this year, going 6-10 while posting a 5.11 ERA and 1.43 WHIP in 100 innings. Still, Jackson's a Jekyll/Hyde pitcher who can be brilliant at times (he's got a no-hitter to his name).
Time: 2:10 MT