clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Tyler Chatwood was going to be a big part for the Rockies in 2014, and then his elbow went kaboom

New, 1 comment

In a season full of brutal injuries for the Rockies, the loss of Tyler Chatwood was one of the hardest pills to swallow.

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Entering 2014, Tyler Chatwood was supposed to be part of a reliable quartet of Colorado starting pitchers including Jhoulys ChacinBrett Anderson and Jorge De La Rosa. When healthy, all four can be counted on to give the Rockies a solid chance to win the game.

Unfortunately, the Chatwood / Chacin / Anderson part of the group all ended up on the disabled list by April and only combined to pitch a grand total of 130.2 innings; and a good chunk of those weren't healthy innings. While it would've been foolish to count on good health for all of these pitchers, what the Rockies actually got was either a worst case scenario or very close to it.

For Chatwood, the trouble started before the season began. During his final spring training outing, Chatwood strained his left hamstring hustling to third base on a triple. This pushed his first start of the season back to April 13th.

After a get up to speed outing where he threw six innings on 74 pitches, Chatwood looked exactly like his former self in his 2014 Coors Field debut against the Phillies on April 18th. The little righty with electric stuff tossed seven spectacular innings without allowing an earned run. He also struck out six, walked just one, and held the Phillies to a mere two hits.

But just as it seemed his season was about to take off, trouble arose in his next start against San Francisco. Chatwood struggled with his command (he walked four in six innings he was lucky to get through), his velocity varied, and when the Giants did put the bat on the ball, it was hit hard. Chatwood gave up three home runs on that day; just three outings removed from polishing off a 2013 season in which he allowed five home runs all year. It was only one start, but many fans feared something was very, very wrong.

Six days later in Arizona, their worst fears were confirmed.  Five innings deep into another outing where he struggled with command, Chatwood was pulled from the game with what was originally described as an elbow strain.

From there, the details get murky. Nobody outside of the Rockies organization seems to know exactly what went wrong with Chatwood's arm, but after an agonizing two and a half month stretch where he tried to rehab it and get back on the field, the club announced his season was over and he needed Tommy John surgery.

Whether or not Chatwood should have gotten Tommy John surgery two months earlier remains a frustrating mystery.

How severe was the injury in April?

Should he have pitched against the D'Backs when there were clear warning signs of trouble in his start against the Giants?

Did he make things worse in a rehab start?

All of these and other significant questions go unanswered.

The information we do know is grim. Not only did Tyler Chatwood's July Tommy John surgery knock him out for the remainder of the 2014 season, but it will also keep him sidelined for a good chunk if not all of the 2015 season as well.

It's a devastating blow to an already ravaged rotation. In 2013, Chatwood was exactly what the Rockies needed; a 23-year-old pitcher with incredible deceiving movement on his pitches that kept opponents from racking up extra base knocks. His 142 ERA+ was the best mark ever posted by a Rockies' pitcher in a season with at least 100 innings pitched - Trailing only 1994 Marvin Freeman, and 2010 Ubaldo Jimenez.

Chatwood also fit the mold of what the Rockies want from their pitchers. His 58.5 percent ground ball ratio was the second highest of any pitcher in the majors with at least 110 innings pitched in 2013. He represents exactly what the Rockies need, and now for at least another season, he's exactly what the Rockies can't have.

2014 Grade with the Rockies: Incomplete

I can't slap a grade on four starts from a guy who was supposed to have a major role on this pitching staff.

What to expect in 2015

More of Tyler Chatwood not pitching for the Rockies; at least through the first half of the season anyway (if not the duration of it). The Rockies however will likely retain him in some capacity and wait to see what he looks like on the other side of the rehab process. He's arbitration eligible in 2015, but after this season, he's not getting much of a raise. If the Rockies do decide to keep him, they have him under control through the end of the 2017 season, which is a good thing since his arm is still young enough to have some strong innings left if he does come back healthy.

At this point, it's all just a waiting game as his entire career hinges on how he comes back from Tommy John Surgery.

Man, injuries suck!!!