|Jhoulys Chacin continued his breakout season.|
On Friday night in Pittsburgh, one of those bright spots continued shining. Jhoulys Chacin pitched eight dominant innings against a very good Pirates team. He scattered six hits over those eight innings, limiting the damage to one run, in large part to the fact that he was throwing strikes. He struck out three and didn't walk a Pittsburgh batter.
Through 96 pitches, Chacin pounded the strike zone. All but 24 of the pitches were in the strike zone, or swung on by Pirate batters.
The victory gave Chacin his 10th of the season, one short of his career high, set back in 2010 when he went 11-14. At 10-5, there is little doubt that the 2013 season has been the best one yet for the 25-year-old.
The biggest reason for Chacin's success has plenty to do with the number of strikes he is throwing. However, that is only focusing on the results of what has changed. The key to Chacin's success has been because he isn't afraid to throw his entire arsenal of pitches to any hitter. Early in his career, Chacin wouldn't throw his changeup to right-handed hitters. When he is successful, he is able to locate that pitch and get weak ground balls out of it.
In addition to Chacin's changeup, he has learned to keep the ball down in the strike zone. Instead of trying to strike batters out, Chacin no longer wastes pitches trying to get a swing-and-miss. He pitches to contact, knowing that his stuff is good enough that even when it is hit, it is hit weakly and into the ground, resulting in an out. Living in the strike zone has benefited the Venezuelan pitcher two-fold. He gets quicker outs, plus he ends up walking less batters and stays in his rhythm.
There have been some bright spots in a season in which Rockies fans have had to adjust their expectations. The offense, which was supposed to be the strength of this team, has largely been disappointing. Despite strong numbers, the hits in the clutch simply hasn't happened.
On Friday night, the Rockies got those clutch hits. Todd Helton, 17-years removed from his big league debut in the same city that he started in, came through in the clutch. Hit drilled a 98-MPH fastball from left-handed Josh Wilson back up the middle plating two runs and putting the Rockies up for good.
Troy Tulowitzki also rebounded with a 2-for-3 night, getting the Rockies on the board in the 2nd inning with his 20th home run of the season.
There have been some disappointments as the summer weather heated up for the Rockies. However, Chacin has been one of the positives. In all, the top three starting pitchers in the Rockies rotation have been the reason that this team has a shot to win more than 75 games. Between Chacin, Jorge De La Rosa, a true ace who has dominated coming off of surgery, and Tyler Chatwood, the Rockies have a very competitive baseball team. Without those three guys, the Rockies would be in trouble. With them, the Rockies can improve from a year ago and build around them.
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