Last night the first four batters Jhoulys Chacin faced all reached base. Two of them hit a home run including Dee Gordon’s first career home run. The Rockies were down 4-0 before most fans found their seats.
On Monday night Root Sports flashed a graphic that stated Gordon had the lowest slugging percentage in the National League among qualified batters. That is OK for Gordon as he is a small, thinner than thin shortstop, but last night he hit a pitch off of Chacin that bounced off of the front of the second deck in right field. After the next two batters hit the ball hard I tweeted that Jim Tracy should get the bullpen going. (After his homer last night Gordon is no longer owns the lowest slugging percentage, he is now sixth lowest.)
Nearly 60 pitches later and only two innings complete and Chacin had dug himself and the Rockies a mighty hole. By the time Tracy finally spared Chacin he lasted only 4 2/3 innings and allowed 11 hits, four walks and seven earned runs.
For a pitcher who was supposed to contend for the Rockies Opening Day starter it has been a very poor year. What happened?
Last night Rockies beat reporter Thomas Harding continued to respond to tweets indicating that Chacin’s fastball location is the major problem. Is he correct?
First let’s review the stats from the first half of last year and since. The first half of last year Chacin was very good. Between April 5th, 2011 and June 21st, 2011 Chacin pitched 99 2/3 innings, with a .190 batting average against and a .599 OPS against and that resulted in a 2.71 ERA. Since then Chacin has thrown 119 1/3 innings with a 5.14 ERA. I cannot figure out how to calculate his batting average against and OPS against without doing some serious math and apparently baseball reference will not allow me to view game logs across multiple seasons (if you know how to do this, please let me know) but in any case both his batting average and OPS against have gone way up. Through his final starts of 2011 his batting average against was .271 and OPS against was .812. So far in 2012 it is worse: his BAA is .304 and OPSA is .982.
He has been a pretty poor pitcher since about the All-Star break last year.
Thanks to heat maps here is Chacin’s fastball location in those 99 1/3 innings through the first half of 2011:
Most of his fastballs were low and inside to right hand batters or low and outside to lefties. In fact, many of his fastballs were out of the zone and inside to right hand batters which would help set up his off speed stuff.
Now how about in the last 120 innings?
Most all of the pitches are in the middle and up and not many of his fastballs are outside of the zone.
Not sure if this is the only issue with Chacin but it looks like a good start. If he cannot properly locate his fastball he is not going to be effective. Whether it is mechanics or confidence Bob Apodaca and Chacin need to work on locating his fastballs AWAY from the center of the plate.
This is a seemingly easy and obvious fix for a very serious problem. It isn’t uncommon for people to look too deep for issues when the issue is very often very easy to diagnose. The first thing you should ask in IT when something loses connectivity is if it is plugged in. Many high level, very smart, IT folks will begin looking at logs, interface up/down states, etc, etc when it just might be as simple as a plug coming lose.
Maybe Apodaca needs to hang an old tire from a tree and ask Chacin to throw a ball through it?
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