The Colorado Rockies will welcome a familiar face to Coors Field when they face the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday night. Jhoulys Chacin will get the start, and given the current state of the Rockies’ offense, that’s not such a bad deal like it might have been for opposing pitchers during his days in Colorado.
Chacin grew up with the Rockies, pitching for them from 2009 through 2016. Those were his age-21 through his age-26 seasons. He was consistently solid and started multiple opening days for the club. It is no stretch or exaggeration to say he is one of the best pitchers in franchise history. Chacin ranks fourth on the team’s all-time list for pitchers with 14.6 bWAR.
His best season came in 2013, when Chacin went 14-10 with a 129 ERA+. He was a workhorse that year, throwing 197.1 innings. That felt like the year he put it all together. That felt like the point where he got over the hump and he and the Rockies would both reap the benefits of his development for years to come.
Unfortunately 2014 was hugely disappointing and spelled the abrupt end of Chacin’s time in Colorado. A shoulder injury ended his season in July, and he clearly wasn’t the same guy as he posted a 1-7 record and a career-worst 79 ERA+. It has been a tough road back and things looked dire at the time, but it still always felt like there could have been more there for Chacin on the Rockies.
Chacin has been a journeyman in the seasons since. He worked briefly on the Diamondbacks in 2015 and then with the Angels and Braves in 2016. He bounced back nicely with the Padres last season, even if his results were buoyed by success in his home ballpark in San Diego. He went 13-10 with a 107 ERA+ last season. That included three starts against the Rockies in which he went 1-1 with a 3.31 ERA.
That brings us to present day and his spot in the rotation for the Milwaukee Brewers. Chacin finds himself pitching on a contender, or at least a team that fancies themselves as such. The Brewers are off to a solid 21-16 start, and Chacin is right in the middle of it. He has a 2-1 record through eight starts with a 101 ERA+.
One thing to note is that Chacin is pitching to contact with just a 5.4 K/9 mark. He has made that approach work for him in the past with “heavy” pitches that sink and move, including a 5.7 K/9 mark in the aforementioned 2013 season. The Rockies’ hitters might strike out less on Thursday, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be causing damage.
It will be a welcome sight again to see Chacin on the mound, pounding his glove between pitches in the way we know so well. We’ll just have to see if a match-up with a familiar faces helps get the Rockies’ bats on track.