Friday, August 23, 2013

Colorado Rockies scratch out a win for Jhoulys Chacin

Jhoulys Chacin has been phenomenal all season long for the Rockies.
The stat-geeks claim that pitcher's wins is one of the most overrated stats in baseball. It makes some sense, why does a pitcher who gave up one run in seven innings get a loss when his team doesn't score, then another pitcher gets a win when he gives up five runs in five innings because his team offense crushed it.

The Colorado Rockies have been giving credence to that claim for the better part of the 2013 season. On Friday night in Miami, it was no different.

Jhoulys Chacin, returning to the team after going back to his native Venezuela following the death of his grandmother, was absolutely phenomenal. His performance was something that the Rockies have become used to in his breakout 2013 campaign. He went seven innings, giving up two runs on four hits. He struck out five and walked four. After not giving up hit until the 5th inning, Chacin left the game on the hook for the loss when his offense struggled to hit.


In what has become commonplace for the Rockies offense, especially on the road, it seemed inevitable that the team would lose a one-run game in which they failed to scratch out hits against a sub-par starting pitcher.

Instead, much to the surprise of the pessimists who assumed the game was a lost cause, the Rockies emerged from their offensive slumber in the top of the 8th inning. Troy Tulowitzki doubled, and scored on a great read on a broken bat single to right field from Michael Cuddyer. Then young first baseman Ryan Wheeler, who was 1-for-14 on the season coming in to the at-bat, drilled a double to center field, scoring Cuddyer and giving the Rockies a lead, and eventually a win.

The victory on Friday night was the kind of win that has eluded the Rockies since June. When they were contending, they were getting big hits in big situations. Much of that came from the success of Troy Tulowitzki in those situations, and therefore ended when he broke his rib, however, those types of at-bats need to come from more than one player.

On Friday night, it came from the unlikeliest of sources, the guy just called up two days ago.

More at-bats like that over the course of the season might not have been enough to make the Rockies contenders, but they certainly would be closer to a .500 team. Instead, they find themselves playing out the string of games in late August.

A few more games like Friday nights, even though the offense didn't score many runs overall but got the big hit, would have gone a long way considering the type of pitching this team has received all season long.

Jorge De La Rosa hasn't lost a game in which the offense has scored three or more runs. He has lost six games. That means that in nearly one in four of his starts, the offense has failed to put up any amount of runs that would help to win a baseball game.

Chacin notched his 12th win on Friday night against seven losses. An ERA of 3.22 suggests that he has also struggled to receive enough run support. That kind of performance should have him closer to 15 wins and five losses.

Improvement is what this team is looking for at this point. There are plenty of issues within the front office, but the guys on the field have no control over that. They can only take care of what happens between the lines. That means that they have to continue to improve. They have to play with a sense of urgency and play the game with the fundamentals that good teams play with. Good, clean baseball is what this team has lacked.

If the Rockies fundamentals can get better, and the Rockies can learn to take good at-bats, the debate over how much a pitcher's win is actually worth won't matter, because the offense will be able to scratch out the runs that they need to to make it a moot point.

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