Friday, June 28, 2013

Jhoulys Chacin continues to be the pitcher the Colorado Rockies need

Chacin was brilliant again.
For the third straight outing, Jhoulys Chacin looked like a pitcher who no one in the National League is excited to face. He looks like a legitimate ace for the Colorado Rockies.

In a 4-1 victory, Chacin was an inning away from a complete-game shutout. He wasn't given the opportunity to pitch the 9th, perhaps because that move backfired on Walt Weiss two starts ago against Philadelphia, or perhaps because the Rockies don't want a pitcher to go over 100 pitches. Chacin fired 95 pitches in eight innings, 60 for strikes.

Rex Brothers came in with a four run cushion and closed out the victory, but not without allowing the tying run to step to the plate. With 38,000 fans holding their breath--and undoubtedly Chacin in the dugout looking on--Brothers induced Brandon Crawford into a game-ending ground ball to second base, giving the Rockies the win.

The pitching performance from Chacin was a fun one. It is one that Rockies fans haven't been treated to very often at Coors Field. A park known for runs, it is rare to see a pitcher slice and dice an opposing team. On Friday night, Chacin did just that. He induced 11 ground ball outs, while striking out three.

When Chacin isn't trying to strike everyone out and is pitching to contact, he is extremely difficult to hit. He gave up just three hits on the night, two came off the bat of Buster Posey and another came from Brandon Belt. The first Posey hit was solid, but after that both Belt's double and Posey's second hit were balls that were hit in the right spot, not necessarily squared up.

To watch a pitcher dominate an opposing team the way Chacin did is fun. It could be argued that it is more fun than watching a team launch four or five home runs and win a shootout. The Giants simply had no answer for the righty. He pounded the strike zone, again not being afraid to throw his changeup on the inner-half of the plate to right-handers.

Encouraging to Rockies fans should be the fact that Chacin has shown that the talent he possesses is good enough to not just be good, but to be great. He has dominant stuff, and when he pounds the strike zone, he can get outs. It doesn't matter if he is in Washington or at Coors Field. His stuff will get Major League hitters out no matter where he is pitching.

With Chacin pitching the way that he is now, which is the reason why so many were excited about him as a prospect, the Rockies have the pitcher that they need to lead them to the path of respectability. A team needs a guy who they can rally around every fifth day. They need a guy who can be depended on to give them a great outing, regardless of what the offense has been doing or what the other pitchers have brought to the table.

The Rockies are fortunate. They play in a division that currently sports four teams at or below .500. The Rockies, one game under, are just three games out of first place and well within striking distance. With that in mind, they just embarked on a 16-game stretch against all National League West foes.

The first six of those games come at Coors Field, where the offense has thrived for the Rockies all season long. The final 10 of those games come on the road, where the Rockies offense has been less than exciting. Seven of the games are at Chase Field, in Phoenix, and the final four games come in Los Angeles against a Dodgers team that has been better of late. Both of those locations are places where the Rockies have struggled for years.

That simply emphasizes the fact that these six games, with one in the books on Friday night, are very important to the Rockies. They need to make a stand and begin this stretch by gaining ground instead of digging a hole. The Rockies have the firepower to do it.

Despite an overall lack of offense in the past few weeks for the Rockies, Michael Cuddyer has been on fire. His third inning opposite field bomb underscored just how well he is seeing the ball. His All-Star caliber play is exceeding anything the Rockies have seen since Troy Tulowitzki went on an incredible tear of his own in September of 2010.

Between Cuddyer and Chacin, the Rockies were in good hands. However, it is easy to overlook the fact that both Wilin Rosario and Nolan Arenado are starting to heat up at the plate. Arenado went 2-for-3 with a double and a walk, and despite only notching one hit, Rosario's was a big one, a line drive home run that barely was high enough to make it over the left field fence.

If both of the young kids can step up just a little bit, they can help Cuddyer fill the gaping hole that is left in the lineup when Tulowitzki is out.

The reality is, the Rockies are not a complete team. They have some glaring holes. However, no one is taking advantage of a weak division in the National League West, so there is no reason to think that the Rockies can't be the first to make a run. Tulowitzki will be back in a month at the latest, and if the Rockies get pitching like they have seen from Chacin and Jorge De La Rosa, there is no reason to think that they will bury themselves.

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1 comment:

  1. Hello, Mr. Martin.
    One final comment about the Rockies and their inability to improve to division champs.
    Their team is weakened by two one position prima donnas Tulowitski and Helton. Tulo is able to perform only 70% of the time due to injuries and Helton's skills have been ravaged by age. Short a pitcher or two the mental makeup of the rest of the team is excellent.
    I wonder if my grandson would have survived Afghan combat had Tulo and Todd been in his squad.
    I congratulate you for your willingness to point out this organizations weaknesses, while the boys in the booth are simply paid syncophants.
    Keep up the good reporting and good luck.