Let's be honest, Jhoulys Chacin did not have his best stuff last night. He walked five and didn't strike anyone out in six innings of work, it was actually reminiscent of what we saw from him in 2011 and before his DL stint in 2012.
Only, it wasn't, Chacin did an excellent job of limiting damage and dealing with traffic. He gave up a two-run home run to A.J. Pollock, the second batter of the game, but didn't give up any more runs in his six innings of work. That's what an ace does, he holds the opponent at bay when he doesn't have his best stuff and dominates them when he does.
Last night's performance lowered Chacin's ERA to 3.21, which would be a career best, and his ERA+ is approaching a stout 140. He has now thrown 193 1/3 innings this year with (likely) one start left, an excellent number considering both the Rockies' pitch limitations and the fact that he was injured for much of 2012.
It seems like Chacin has been around for a good long while, and he did make his debut all the way back in 2009, but he's only 25 years old. He's like a college quarterback that starts as a freshman, by their junior year it feels like they've been there for a decade, only Chacin won't graduate, he can remain in a Rockies uniform as long as he and the team want him to be.
Chacin has always been able to limit hits, the league has hit just .241 against him in his career, but his step forward this year has come from his ability to cut down walks. In each of his first four seasons, he walked at least four batters per nine innings, a number he has cut to 2.7 in 2013.
The fact that Chacin is not grouped with the Rockies' "young pitchers" despite being a year and a half younger than Juan Nicasio says great things about both his ability and presence on the mound. If he continues the progress he has made this year, it is likely he'll wind up as the best pitcher in franchise history.
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Not only did Chacin recover on the mound from Pollock's early home run, he matched it by hitting a two-run homer of his own in the third inning.