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Rock Mining, Week 10: Do not count out Jhoulys Chacin

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Prior to Jordan Lyles getting hurt, there was a push to replace both Franklin Morales and Jhoulys Chacin in the Rockies starting rotation do to ineffectiveness from both.  Franklin had been up and down, mostly down of late, and that move makes sense as it will probably help both the rotation and the bullpen since he seems to do his best work in his first four to six outs in which he appears.  However, I did not understand the anti-Chacin sentiment.

While it is true that Jhoulys has his worst ERA over the last five years up to this point, seven of his 23 earned runs have come in his final inning of work in each game as he has tried to build arm strength on the fly.  His return from the disabled list may have been a tad premature to compensate for the team losing both Brett Anderson and Tyler Chatwood in the first month of the season.  So, while he is building arm strength and trying to find the command of his off-speed pitches, batters around the league are already hitting their groove.  It is a steep growing curve that we should see level off for him as the middle of June approaches.

It also turns out that May has never been a great month for Jhoulys.  If this is for the aforementioned advantage hitters get as they get their swing in a groove before the dog days of summer or just a time period where Chacin faces adversity, May is just not good for him.  It is his worst individual month for hits and home runs allowed and second-worst for batting average and slugging percentage against.  Here are his May ERAs by year since 2010:

Year ERA
2014 5.51
2013 5.87
2012 13.49*
2011 3.69
2010 3.72

*pitched only one game in May 2012

Never has Jhoulys Chacin had a lower ERA in May than his average for the season.  In his best May (2011), he still had a better ERA the rest of the season, at 3.60.  Add this normal funk in May to having to basically re-accomplish spring training while on the field against big league batters who have a month head start, and you have the results we have seen the past month.

While Chacin has yet to put up 200 innings in a season, he has been one of the workhorses of this Rockies' rotation since his call-up in 2010.  Except for his injury year of 2012, Chacin has averaged 30 games a season.  With a lost April, he won't reach either of those benchmarks this year, but he will provide the quality innings that the offense needs to keep them in games.  At 26 years old, he remains the best pitcher for the long term this team has based on track record and age.

The Rockies' current pitching rotation has two rocks to build on, Chacin and Jorge De La Rosa, two injury concerns that can be electric in Brett Anderson and Tyler Chatwood, two youthful starters with big league experience in Jordan Lyles and Juan Nicasio, and a lot of other promising young talent.  Getting the two injured starters healthy and finding the best ways to use the young arms should be concerns for the Rockies and fans, not whether they should trust Jhoulys 'The Machine' Chacin every fifth day.

The Good

How about a win?!  After what seemed like a month of losing the Rockies were able to eke out a win on Saturday against the Dodgers.  Even better, for all but the sixth inning, the Rockies were dominating.  The aforementioned Jhoulys Chacin only faced two batters above the minimum in the first five innings, had two baserunners in the sixth, and then started a disappointing seventh inning that saw him not get an out against three batters before being lifted.  A walk off extra innings win was a lot of stress for the fan base hungry for a win but at least the streak is over.

The Bad

Michael Cuddyer playing third.  I know the team has to find a way to get the best bats in the lineup with Nolan Arenado and Carlos Gonzalez out but this cannot be the way.  The end to Thursday night's game was painful to watch as four balls went past the hot corner by going over, under, and bouncing off of Cuddy's glove.  Adding injury to insult, Cuddy has now sat out two games with a shoulder injury that likely occurred on an ill-timed dive during that game.

The Ugly

May was bad. After starting the month 6-1 the Rockies only won 6 more games in the next 19.  So, after starting this month 1-5, maybe they can to the opposite and go 17-5?  It will be difficult though with a tough California road trip in the middle of the month and injured players not expected to be back until July.  I think that anything better than 11-11 would be considered a success until the team can get two of it three injured starting pitchers back and one of their two starting position players that are recovering from finger injuries.