All year long in 2013 I doubted Jhoulys Chacin. All year long Jhoulys Chacin performed admirably. Do I need to change my outlook on the righty from Colorado for the coming season? Let’s take a gander and see what there is to see.
Chacin won 14 games over 45 starts in 2011-12. He won 14 games in 31 outings in 2013. You know what I think about victories. Here’s the shorthand – they are extremely hard to predict and don’t always reflect the success/failure of a hurler. Keep that in mind before you get too pumped up about Chacin’s victory total.
Chacin owns a career 3.61 ERA. In the three seasons in his career in which he has thrown 135 innings his ERA’s have been 3.28, 3.62 and 3.47. That’s some solid pitching, especially for a guy in Coors Field. Not surprisingly though Chacin struggled at home (4.18 ERA) relative to his work on the road (2.44) in 2013. He’s been slightly better than league average in ERA for his career, but he’s always been below league average while pitching at home (4.18 ERA over 56 starts and 63 games).
Chacin has a career 1.33 WHIP. That’s a few clicks above the NL average so it’s not helping you out at all. Not surprisingly Chacin struggled a bit at home (1.29) when compared to his work on the road (1.22) last season. He’s been slightly worse than league average in WHIP for his career.
Oh what happened to your K-ball Mr. Chacin? No need to get all fancy breaking down his strikeouts. I’ll merely list for you his yearly K/9 marks which tell the whole story: 10.64, 9.04, 6.96, 5.87 and 5.75. Chacin struck out 126 batters in 2013. Aroldis Chapman struck out 112 batters in 2013 and he only threw 63.2 innings (Chacin was at 197.1). Chacin not only isn’t going to help you in the strikeout column he’s actually going to let you down. He’s a negative in this category.
Chacin did one thing better last season than ever before – he cut down the walks. When you strike out fewer than six batters per innings, his mark over his last 45 starts, you need to keep the walk in checks. He did that very well with a 2.78 BB/9 mark in 2013. Here’s the issue with that number. In each of his previous four seasons he walked at least four batters per nine innings. Do you believe the 2013 Chacin or the arm he had been for years previously? Call me a skeptic but I want to see another season at the 2013 level before I buy a ticket on that plane.
There’s also another factor that leads me to be concerned. How does a guy give up a 24.5 percent line drive rate and have the results be a mere .288 BABIP and .253 batting average? When he allowed a 24.2 percent line drive rate in 2012 his BABIP was .311 and the BAA was .288. Those numbers are way more in line with what I would expect to see. There’s also this. I know he’s good at keeping the ball down in the zone but that 0.50 HR/9 mark was just too low. Not only was it substantially lower than his 0.77 career mark but his HR/F ratio really sticks out as a random, sample size situation. In three of his first four seasons his HR/F mark was in double-digits. Last season the mark was down at 6.2. It figures to creep back up in 2014.
So what do we have here? We’ve got a guy that, despite his success, I would rarely if ever suggest to someone to draft in a mixed league.
(1) You cannot depends on wins.
(2) His K-rate is pitiful, so much so that he hurts you in the K column.
(3) He’s never shown the ability to limit walks like he did last year.
(4) His line drive rate is too high to sustain his low BABIP and BAA from ’13.
(5) His HR/F rate was far too low in ’13.
Given all of that, it’s fair to posit an increase in his ERA in 2014, and the WHIP has a slightly better chance of ending up above 1.30 than below it. Chacin is a nice streaming option in mixed leagues, but again, I’m not rostering him on draft day in a standard mixed league and feeling pumped up about it.
By Ray Flowers