The Colorado Rockies held their breath as Jhoulys Chacin was pulled from spring action and sent for an MRI on his throwing shoulder last month. They caught a break with the news that it is nothing serious, and all things considered it has been mostly good news since then.
It is only a slight hitch in their plans, then, to learn that Chacin will still likely start the 2014 regular season on the 15-day disabled list. Thomas Harding of MLB.com reports as much, saying that it will be a surprise if Chacin is ready to go by Opening Day.
For his part, Chacin is not overly discouraged by this fact. It sounds like he feels right on track (quotes from MLB.com):
My ball is coming out good. Everything feels fine, I feel strong. I’m very happy everything is working out…I’m thinking about the long term, not rushing and getting set back.”
That’s all fine and good, but starting the season with Chacin on the DL forces the Rockies to dip into whatever depth they have for the rotation immediately during what will be a demanding opening stretch. With only two off days in April, the team already faced the very real prospect of being forced to use a 6th starter early on.
Now we know we will get a glimpse of at least two of the guys competing for the 5th spot in the rotation right away. As of now it seems likely that it will be Juan Nicasio and Jordan Lyles, though this does crack the door open for Christian Friedrich to overcome his long odds of snagging a spot. And yes, there is also the adventurous Franklin Morales to consider.
If this works out such that the Rockies have Chacin over the long haul of the season, that is obviously a good thing. It does put pressure on the pitching staff right away, though, as the Rockies try to get off to a good start in 2014.