A Eulogy for Jhoulys Chacin

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No, he’s not dead, but he is dead to Jeff Bridich and the Rockies–if we see Chacin in purple pinstripes again, it won’t be anytime soon.

Most of the stuff I’ve read in the last few hours about the Rockies’ release of starting pitcher Jhoulys Chacin has used the word “surprised.” Allow me to express what we’re really feeling: It’s a lot more like shock. Chacin has been the Rockies’ ace-in-waiting for several years now, although said years have admittedly been shortened by injuries and some bad pitching. I knew Chacin was struggling and that the Rockies were unsure just exactly how to use him; however, it did not once cross my mind that they were actually thinking of letting him go, at least not after they signed a new contract with him this past winter.

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What went wrong, Jhoulys? You were always a bit of a head case, but boy could you throw hard. Your mid-90s fastball and a slider that stopped batters in their tracks were awe-inspiring. In three separate seasons, you struck out more than 100 batters, posted at least a 126 ERA+, and allowed less than a home run per 9 innings. Jorge De La Rosa gets all the credit for being a Coors Field superstar, but you always had the goods to follow in his footsteps.

The career spread in opponents’ batting averages home and away is a measly 6 points. The OPS spread is only 16 points. You may not have been better at Coors Field, but you were not a whole lot worse, and for a pitcher of your caliber, that is really saying something.

I’ll carry many memories of you, Jhoulys, but perhaps the most vivid is August 1st, 2011. The Rockies unloaded their ace Ubaldo Jimenez to the Cleveland Indians just before the trade deadline, but after sending him to the mound to pitch an agonizing inning in which he surrendered 4 runs. The Rockies went on to win that game, but they lost the next day, and the taste of Ubaldo’s departure was still bitter in our mouths (it’s not anymore, but it really really was then). You came out against the Padres and threw 101 excellent pitches, allowing just one run over 7 1/3 innings. Of course, Huston Street would go on to cost the Rockies the game, but for a brief moment, we all had a glimmer of hope knowing that our next ace was waiting in the wings. Jhoulys, we know now that you were not meant to be that ace, but I’ll always remember that moment of hope. Best of luck on your next adventure.

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