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Tuesday Rockpile: The Rockies' Forgotten Weapon

Colorado struggled so mightily with their rotation in 2012. If only they had a guy with a proven track record at Coors Field to count on.

Can you come back out of the shadows to shine?
Can you come back out of the shadows to shine?
Doug Pensinger

The what-if game is popular tactic by its frequency of usage and equally unpopular for the undue pain it can cause. I'm going to play the what-if game.

The Rockies' rotation was historically bad in 2012, which also means there is ample room for improvement. Even one pitcher having a solid season would make a significant impact, not only to 20% of the rotation, but to the bullpen and possibly the mindsets of the remaining members of the rotation.

Yet as we have read over the off-season, there is no such savior on the roster. Every candidate for the rotation carries massive question marks.

Wouldn't it be nice (the offseason is for dreaming, just let me) if the Rockies had one of those stud young pitchers that has already been there and done that? Say, a 25-year-old with over 200 innings of sub-4.00 ERA pitching at Coors Field, a 3.44 ERA in almost 400 career innings. What if the Rockies had a pitcher with the lowest ERA as a Rockie in franchise history, better than Ubaldo Jimenez?

The Rockies do not have this mythical pitcher, but they have one that is pretty darn close. Jhoulys Chacin has a 3.68 career ERA, 4.18 at Coors Field. Ubaldo Jimenez had a 3.66 ERA in a Rockies' uniform to set the standard.

So what were those seemingly random numbers above? Oh, those were Jhoulys Chacin. Those were Jhoulys Chacin minus five horrid starts to lead off 2012. In trying to answer Dan O'Dowd's criticisms in Spring Training, Chacin pitched through a pectoral nerve injury to disastrous results. When he returned, he threw nine starts for a 2.84 ERA. Given the Rockies' massive struggles, Chacin's return went relatively unnoticed. His strikeouts and walks were both down under the Project 5183, but he was still as effective as he ever was.

It is always dangerous to selectively take a sample of production and throw it out the window. But Chacin proved he was capable of being a front of the rotation pitcher in 53 starts prior to 2012 and 9 starts to close 2012. His five starts from April 9-May 1 are clear outliers the occurred during a rather notable injury.

It is amazing how much those five injury-plagued starts have changed the perception of Chacin, for Rockies fans and outsiders. In November, Nick Faleris of Baseball Prospectus ranked Chacin the 9th best player 25 and under for the Rockies. Alex White was #7.

We should not be surprised if Chacin returns to form in 2013, and that will be a very big story indeed. Next off-season, we may be talking about a potential contract extension for the Venezuelan, who will be a free agent after 2015.


Larry Walker on Hall of Fame ballot results, controversy - MLB - - This was posted in Friday night, a terrible time to be posting such things. Make sure you read Larry Walker's take on the Hall ballot and how much he saw PEDs in his career.

What kind of baseball player could Seattle QB Russell Wilson have been for the Rockies? - Yahoo! Sports - Jeff Passan has a feature on Wilson as a Rockie, including bits that I previously did not know. It is worth your time.

Rockies' Wilin Rosario out, Tulowitzki unlikely for WBC - The Denver Post - Yet Carlos Gonzalez is going to play with no apparent fretting. Gonzalez missed 17 games with injury in 2012.

Opening day MLB payrolls to exceed $3B for first time; Dodgers, Jays, Nats see biggest rise - Yahoo! Sports - Over half of the increase league-wide is attributable to the Dodgers. Passan estimates a $73million payroll for Colorado, a 6.5% decrease. If that turns out to be accurate, it would be the lowest Rockies payroll since 2008, just $1.5 million higher than 2001.

What kind of baseball player could Seattle QB Russell Wilson have been for the Rockies? - Yahoo! Sports

Colorado Rockies 2013 Top 15 Prospects | Bullpen Banter - The general tone is comparable to John Sickels and Baseball Prospectus in that Colorado has three solid position player prospects, no guaranteed studs, some pitching wild cards, and decent depth. A notable difference here is that Al Skorupa, JD Sussman and crew agree with me in putting Dahl #1. Make sure to click through for video of Dahl, Matzek, Arenado, Parker, Bettis, Cabrera, Rosell Herrera and Tom Murphy.

Jack Morris, the Tea Party, and WOW THE INTERNET - Baseball Nation - Rob Neyer vents all over the page after Ken Rosenthal stirred the pot.

Life's a Bichette - MLB Daily Dish - Justin Bopp discovers a classic card.

The Difference Pitching on the Edge Makes | FanGraphs Baseball - Some longheld sayings and strategies about baseball don't hold up to further statistical scrutiny, but we would be pretty surprised if this one had that issue. Bill Petti shows that pitching on the edges of the strike zone consistently increases strikeouts and decreases walks and hits.