Sunday, August 28, 2011

Colorado Rockies hang on to win in Los Angeles, win streak on Sunday now up to two

After an exhausting weekend in unseasonably warm Los Angeles, the Colorado Rockies escaped without being swept.

Barely.

After being staked to a 5-0 lead after the first inning, Jhoulys Chacin did his best to keep the Los Angeles Dodgers in the game. The new ace of the staff struggled with his command. He gave up four runs in five-plus innings worth of work. He gave up six hits, and stuck out six, but he also walked five Dodgers, including all three that he faced in the sixth inning before giving way to the bullpen.

The win is a testament to who this team could have been. Going into the season, they were touted as a team that would walk away with their first-ever National League West crown. They had all the talent to do it. They had a lineup that could bailout a pitcher when that pitcher had a bad day, and pitching that could bail out a lineup on a bad day.

On Sunday, the Rockies, with the help of some Dodger misplays, put up a five-spot in the first inning. They were working counts. Dexter Fowler led off the game with an eight-pitch walk, something that shows his progress throughout the season.

Without the luxury of a home run, the Rockies put seven runs on the board, and they needed each one of them.

Chacin is now the ace of the Rockies. He was thrust into that position by the early struggles of Ubaldo Jimenez, and ultimately officially took over the role when Jimenez was dealt to Cleveland. Being an ace, however, puts a pitcher into a different category. People expect more of their ace.

It is tough to remember that Chacin is just 23-years old. Early in the season he had taken such a huge step forward in his development that he seemed like a seasoned veteran. Lately, the right-hander has started to show his age.

Many young pitchers in the game think that they have to strike out every batter that they face. It seems as if Chacin is falling into that problem. Instead of pounding the strike zone and allowing the opposing batters to hit the ball and let his defense do the dirty work.

Instead, Chacin is looking as if he is trying to be too fine. He is going for the strike out in every at-bat. The result of that is more stress on the mound, with every pitch being overly important, and walking batters because the pitcher is missing his spot by only a few inches.

Chacin is going to mature. He has the pedigree of an ace. He is extremely competitive by all accounts. He wants to succeed and he is determined to succeed. However, it is going to take time before he is the ace that everyone is expecting already. That pitcher has the potential to show up, but at 23, Chacin has time to reach his full potential.

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