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Jhoulys Chacin did not have the best start to the 2017 season. In his first start of the year, he gave up nine earned runs against the Dodgers. Chacin gave up another seven runs four starts later at the hands of the Diamondbacks. By the time the baseball season reached the end of April, Chacin was 3-3 with a 5.82 ERA. The threat of him imploding on any given night made him a player to avoid for fantasy purposes.

However, since the beginning of June, the 29-year-old starter has produced very different results. So different, that he became one of the most added players across fantasy baseball this week. Over at ESPN, Chacin had the seventh largest change in ownership rate (16.9 percent to 24.6 percent). He saw a similar boost at CBS going from 34 percent owned to 45 percent.

What’s led to this increased interest? Chacin has been a top-40 starting pitcher over the past 30 days according to ESPN’s Player Rater. In those eight starts since the beginning of June, Chacin is 5-3 with a 2.68 ERA. Is it time to believe in Chacin as a solid starting pitching option? More important, is now the time to invest in Chacin if he’s available in your league? We’ll try to answer those questions in this week’s Buyer’s Guide.

The Good

If you simply look at Chacin’s season stats, there isn’t a lot that will jump out at you. However, his monthly splits begin to paint a positive picture. After the first month of the season, Chacin’s ERA was 5.82. That number dropped to 3.00 in June, and it sits at 2.08 in July. Also, his K% has slowly increased each month of the season. Chacin has never been known as a strikeout pitcher, but the production has gradually gotten better over the course of the season.

There are other encouraging trends as well. His soft contact rate is trending upward, and his groundball rate is as high as it’s been since 2011. Add to these factors increased velocity, and you have the makings of a more successful pitcher. These are all positive signs, but are there reasons for why this is happening?

It appears that much of Chacin’s success stems from the fact that he’s throwing his slider more than at any point in his career. In April, he was throwing the pitch only 21 percent of the time. In June and July, that rate has been north of 35 percent. Chacin’s slider has the highest whiff/swing rate in his arsenal (33.89 percent), and it’s been his most successful pitch against opposing batters. His curve has produced slightly better results, but he’s thrown it far less often.

Below is a look at how batters have fared against Chacin by pitch type this season.

Results and Averages by Pitch Type This Season

Pitch Type

BAA

SLG

ISO

BABIP

Fourseasm

.408

.837

.429

.357

Sinker

.298

.425

.127

.314

Change

.343

.543

.200

.355

Slider

.163

.306

.143

.250

Curve

.067

.100

.033

.091

The Bad

It’s an incredibly small sample size, but some command issues have resurfaced during his July starts. Chacin has walked at least three batters in three of his past five outings. Those numbers are exacerbated by the fact that he hasn’t gone longer than 6.1 innings in any of those appearances. The walk totals aren’t a deal breaker, but coupled with shorter outings it can be a problem.

There’s also the fact that Chacin’s success has been fueled by a month-to-month decrease to his BABIP. In June and July, it’s running at an identical .244 rate. Chacin’s BABIP has been .287 over the course of his career. He’s always run a lower than average rate, but this level isn’t going to last.

There’s also the issue of how valuable Chacin will be for standard fantasy categories. He plays for the Padres and doesn’t go very deep into games which limits his ability to tally wins. He’s not going to be a high strikeout pitcher, and his WHIP could be harmful if the control issues continue. Chacin is providing the Padres with quality innings, but it might have limited value from a fantasy perspective.

Buyer’s Guide: Sell

There’s a lot to like about what Chacin has done recently. The new reliance on his slider bolsters these results because it gives owners a tangible reason for the change. Chacin isn’t just benefiting from better luck. He’s adjusted his approach on the mound, and he’s seeing better results for it.

Still, there are too many red flags to fully invest in Chacin. You could easily justify using him as a streaming option based on opponent. He hasn’t given up more than three earned runs since May 23, and those appearances where the wheels fall off seem to be behind him. However, the potential for low-strikeout totals and high-walk rates is concerning. As a low-ceiling option he’s fine, but you’re probably looking for more in your rotation.

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huztlers
7/17
With a player like Chacin, it is really Cut, Hold or Buy. Nobody is going to give anyone anything for Jhoulys Chacin. So, the question is, is he worth keeping on your roster?
kringent
7/17
I have to say I agree with this. It's also past the trade deadline in my league, though I don't know if that's the case for most.