July 22, 2011
The Two Sides of Jhoulys Chacin
Last month, I talked about pitchers that were in the “Holy Trinity” of what I considered to be the best mix of skills when targeting pitchers: a strikeout rate of at least 7.0, a groundball rate of at least 50 percent, and a strikeout to walk ratio of at least 2.2. There were just 15 pitchers on that list, but that group has been very successful this season outside of Josh Johnson, who went down with an injury right around the time that article ran, so I take full blame for that bad karma.
One guy that was on that list was Jhoulys Chacin, who, along with Ubaldo Jimenez and the humidor, has helped changed the way fantasy players think about pitchers in Colorado. In his minor league career, Chacin went 40-19 with a 2.40 ERA, striking out 435 batters and allowing 28 home runs in 495.2 innings while pitching in unfriendly parks in Asheville, Modesto, and Colorado Springs. He has now thrown just over 271 innings at the major league level and, despite a losing record of 17-19, has a career 3.38 ERA, 8.5 K/9, 4.1 BB/9, and 1.24 WHIP.
BP2011 had this final thought about Chacin:
Chacin still has to work on his control, but as a 23-year-old with five pitches who gets a Coors-friendly combination of strikeouts and ground balls, he should be an asset in the rotation for years to come.
Early on this season, that is exactly what Chacin was doing. In April, he had a 2.9 strikeout to walk rate, and in May that ratio dipped a bit but was still an effective 2.2. He ended May with a 5-4 record and a 3.33 ERA along with a stellar 1.12 WHIP. Since June 1st, though, it has been a bit of a different story for the hard throwing groundballer.
A further look into his monthly splits shows that he is getting away from what makes him successful pitching in Denver: getting ground balls. His groundball rates in April, May, and June were 59, 60, and 60 percent, but in the small sample size that is July so far (23 innings), his groundball rate is just 47 percent. Over his last five starts, Chacin has now given up seven home runs, and that is in just 27 innings of work. The question remains: why the change in results? Is it a matter of a change in process or just noise within the results that will correct itself over time?
The chart below shows Chacin’s pitch types and velocity of each over the good and ugly parts of his season (results provided by texasleaguers.com).