Monday Rockpile: The Rockies have to make a big decision on Jhoulys Chacin in the next few weeks

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Jhoulys Chacin is a big problem for the Rockies, and once they start getting some other injured pieces back, he's probably going to have to come out of this rotation.

There's a couple of pieces of good news I want to get to today before we address some really negative topics.

First of all, Corey Dickerson is apparently fine following yesterday's game which he had to leave in the late innings as Patrick Saunders reports here. This quote from Dickerson is exactly the type of thing you want to hear:

"I didn't even want to come out; they made me,"

He should be in the lineup for tonight's game against Washington.

Also in that link from Saunders is an update on Nolan Arenado who is on the verge of returning. The third baseman went 2-4 on the night but didn't get as many chances defensively as he wanted. He's scheduled to make a few more rehab starts so he can get his timing down and is expected to rejoin the team Thursday when they return home to face the Dodgers. That will be a huge lift for this club.

Now let's get to the big vuvuzela playing elephant sitting in the middle of the room: Jhoulys Chacin's velocity. That Saunders piece has perhaps the most concerning quote I've seen surrounding this topic yet.

"I really don't know what's wrong with my arm. I can't get strong,"

Ummmm, yeah. These things don't usually end well when that's the case.

Several factors have prevented this issue from getting the proper coverage it probably deserves, which include but are not limited to ...

1) Fans being almost numb to injuries at this point.

2) Fans thinking Chacin will find it again if given more time.

3) Chacin's importance to the team being underrated in general.

Entering the 2014 season, Jhoulys Chacin had a lower career ERA than Ubaldo Jimenez had during his entire stint with the Rockies. He's not a high strikeout guy, but he's proven time and time again that that he can stifle a lineup with weak ground balls when he's right.

Before his most recent two starts, Chacin put together a three game stretch in which he had a 2.84 ERA and held opponents to a .641 OPS. It appeared as though he was headed in the right direction. However, after two stinkers and another step back in velocity (as seen here in his Pitch FX chart from fangraphs), the status of Chacin now has to go from concerning to alarming.

From where I'm sitting, the club now must make a very significant and somewhat radical decision regarding Chacin in the next few weeks, and if he doesn't improve fast, I see only two realistic options.

Option "A" would be to trade him. It sounds foolish on the surface since you would be selling him somewhat low, but if the club believes he's done, they might as well get what they can for him. Even if it's not much, it's better than the nothing they're likely to get from Chacin if that shoulder injury has wrecked him. In addition, Chacin is due to be a free agent after the 2015 season, so you're not handing over that much of the time you had him under control anyway. If he's now going to be a below average pitcher, it makes sense to let somebody else pay him the $5 million and change he's likely to get during arbitration this off season.

However, if the Rockies determine he's not done and think he'll be able to work through his struggles, then they have an interesting option "B". The team could send him to the minor leagues instead. It wouldn't happen for a few more weeks; Brett Anderson will have to come back, Eddie Butler and Jordan Lyles will have to come back, maybe even Tyler Chatwood etc ...

Once some reinforcements arrive though, Chacin to the minors makes all the sense in the world. First of all, he probably won't be one if the five best starters on the team (unless we see a dramatic improvement over the next few weeks) and secondly, if the Rockies send him to the minors for let's say the month of August, they will actually delay his service clock enough to gain an extra year of team control before he hits free agency. If the Rockies think he'll find it again, it makes sense for them to ensure they have Chacin under team control in 2016.

In other news, not only are the Rockies seemingly cursed when it comes to injuries this season, but they also are on the wrong end of other teams getting healthy. Bryce Harper is scheduled to be activated today after missing the last nine weeks with a thumb injury. His return will create a domino effect with Ryan Zimmerman (who has been playing left field) and Anthony Rendon which will push Danny Espinosa and his .284 OBP out of the lineup. The only good news for the Rockies here is that they'll be throwing three left handed starters over the weekend which might help limit some of Harper's thump. Then again, two of them are Yohan Flande and Christian Friedrich, so it probably won't even matter.

Sad News

Awful news within the Purple Row community surfaced over the weekend. I'm devastated to report that fellow robot and friend Junction Rox has died.  I never actually met him, but I'm as shook up about this as I've been about anything in a long time. It just shows you the power of the internet, human emotion, and this community. Even without physical contact, we've impacted each other enough on this site emotionally to feel a huge void with the news of one of our own passing.

A fan post has been created (Thanks Roxman4ever!) - Please pay your respects here as I'm sure Junction Rox has had a positive impact on your time at this site if you've ever spent even a little bit of time cruising through the comment sections. His friendly, knowledgeable, and witty posts were always frequent and timely. This is a huge loss, and his presence on this blog will be forever missed.

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