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Jhoulys Chacín went from starter to setup man... and it worked

Chacín, a longtime Rockies starter, experimented in a bullpen role and ended up finding a potential new home

Welcome to the 2021 edition of Ranking the Rockies, where we take a look back at every player to log playing time for the Rockies in 2021. The purpose of this list is to provide a snapshot of the player in context. The “Ranking” is an organizing principle that’s drawn from Baseball Reference’s WAR (rWAR). It’s not something the staff debated. We’ll begin with the player with the lowest rWAR and end up with the player with the highest.

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No. 18, Jhoulys Chacín: 0.6 rWAR

It’s probably fair to say that most Rockies fans weren’t exactly jumping for joy at the re-signing of Jhoulys Chacín in late March. This had the makings of a “safe” signing - someone to just eat innings in blowouts, or maybe step in for a spot-start if necessary. Chacín, after bouncing around multiple organizations, was making his return to his original team after seven years away and would attempt to find some positive results after a tough past couple seasons. No longer the young starting pitcher that came up with the Rockies, now the veteran pitcher would need to adjust to his new role.

And look, the first few outings did little to inspire confidence. The right-hander gave up runs in seven of his first eight appearances of the season, and four of those were for at least two runs. In June, things did improve slightly, as Chacín posted a 4.09 ERA and earned a win plus his first two holds that month (though he also recorded his first blown save of the season). The first few months of the season were not going well for our guy Jhoulys.

MLB: Colorado Rockies at Houston Astros
Yeah, there was a lot of this at the start of the season
Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

But then, the calendar turned. Starting June 27th, Chacín posted a scoreless streak that would last over a month and a half. No, really — Chacín would record clean appearance after clean appearance before finally giving up two earned runs against the World Series-contending Astros on August 11th. During that stretch, he was unhittable - in 12 innings, he allowed just three hits and five walks while striking out seven. It’s not overpowering stuff, but in a season in which standout bullpen performances were hard to come by, this kind of consistency was key. And wouldn’t you know it — June was one of two months in which the Rockies went 14-13, their best record in a month this season. The other month was August, another strong stretch for our boy, marred by a tough stretch in which he allowed at least one run in three straight appearances the week of September 12th. Other than that: just one earned run all month.

Now look, a 4.34 ERA on the season won’t light the world on fire, especially with so many young arms waiting for an opportunity to lock down the late innings. Chacín will be a free agent following the World Series, so is it worth bringing him back as a veteran arm to help guide the youngin’s? Can he build on the success he found last year? That’s something the Rockies will need to figure out — and soon.