The Rockies have had a lot of exciting young players debut in the last few years, but you’d be hard pressed to find many who had a rookie year as good as Jhoulys Chacin‘s. I remember telling a friend about him after he won the first two games he started in May 2010. I still wasn’t entirely sure how to pronounce his name, but I was willing to risk the embarrassment of saying it wrong because that’s how much I wanted to sing his praises. What was/is great about Chacin is how incredibly dominant he can be. An 8-inning, 3-hit outing is always a possibility with him. Last season, he recorded a pair of complete games. When he’s in the right frame of mind, he will go to the mound and positively mow down the opposing team. That’s impressive for a 23-year-old with just two full seasons under his belt.
Unfortunately, it’s just as likely that he’ll fall apart in the first inning and never get it back. We saw that happen plenty last year too. He is very difficult to hit (his .231 opponents average was 7th in the National League), but he allows a lot of walks, so he still winds up with baserunners. Plus, he only made it through the 5th inning about once every six starts in 2011. We need him to go deep in the game more consistently than that if he’s going to be our ace. And he has all the potential to be just that.
Part of the problem is that he was unceremoniously thrust into that role too early last year. When Jorge De La Rosa went down in May, on the heels of a dismal start to the season for Ubaldo Jimenez, Chacin went from being #3 to #1 almost overnight. He has a lot of growing yet to do, and it showed. But the ace is there somewhere, just waiting for an opportunity to break out and be brilliant. The Rockies want to hold onto him and see if they can’t make that moment happen. He’s still making just over the minimum salary, and he’s under team control through 2015. There’s plenty of room for development with him. The hope is that DLR can return and a couple of the young pitchers can step up and relieve some of the pressure on Chacin. Either way, he’s poised to be a very valuable member of the team, hopefully for many years yet.
Where should Chacin be in 2012? Colorado.
Where will Chacin be in 2012? Colorado.