The Colorado Rockies had a chance to shock baseball last year. Sure, by the time the latter half of the summer played out the pitching fell apart, but not before the team was legitimately hanging around at the All-Star break. Recall once again that 2013 collapsed in on itself when the Rockies failed to hit for a week at home, losing a deadly series to the Miami Marlins that felt like the tipping point of the whole year.
The point is this: for a while the pitching was good enough. Jhoulys Chacin was a big reason why.
After some tough years and some tense relations with the front office, Chacin pitched like a top of the rotation guy in 2013. Looking ahead to 2014, he sees big things for the Rockies thanks to some stability in the rotation.
Chacin talked recently about how he, Jorge De La Rosa, and Tyler Chatwood can lead the rotation. He also talked about what it is like to pitch opposite Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers throughout the season and what he learns from watching him (quotes courtesy of Thomas Harding at MLB.com):
“He’ll throw 120, 130 pitches, and he doesn’t care. Then you see him, when someone else is pitching, rooting for the other guy. That’s something I want to do here, root for everybody. If you have a pitcher doing well on the mound or getting a base hit, have fun and help him. Enjoy what you’re doing, the way they do.
“We’re good enough. We showed last year, with ‘De-La,’ me and Chatwood. But there have to be five guys. We’ve got a chance to do something special and hopefully make the playoffs.”
Chacin would do well to continue to lead by example in his approach. In 2013 he ditched vanity stats in favor of efficiency: a 46.8% groundball percentage and a career-best 2.78 BB/9. His overall success was also reflected in his 3.97 xFIP, even if he did not strike out a ton of hitters (5.75 K/9) or dazzle in the win-loss department (a sound 14-10).
With competence in the 4th and 5th spots, we might all be surprised how far the rotation could carry the Rockies; we haven’t even mentioned Brett Anderson yet. It will be hard for all three top guys mentioned here to repeat their performances from 2013 (in terms of effectiveness and health), but if they do, things might just be as hopeful as Chacin suggests.