Game 36, Angels at Mariners
Hisashi Iwakuma vs. Jhoulys Chacin, 6:10pm
The M’s will try to get the awful taste of last night’s loss out of their mouths by beating the Angels’ newly-acquired starter, Jhoulys Chacin. Chacin made his debut for Colorado in 2009, but enjoyed his first sustained big league campaign the next year (he started 2010 in the PCL, where he started on opening night against Tacoma). He looked like a junkballer, but a *good* one. Not a command and control guy (he walked way too many for that), but someone who made up for his lack of raw stuff by throwing 4-5 different pitches, trying to induce half-swings and bad swings in the process.
Injuries and inconsistency dotted his tenure with the Rockies, but for a while there, he really was an effective pitcher. He racked up nearly 4 fWAR in 2013, and had a pair of 2+ win seasons earlier on, which isn’t too shabby for a guy walking 4 per 9 at altitude. In those “good” years, he pitched around the walks by running a very low BABIP and keeping the ball in the ballpark. Befitting his junkballing ways, he seemed to do this differently each year. In 2011, he was an extreme ground ball pitcher. He’d give up walks, but he kept the ball in the ballpark with two different fastballs, a slider, and an odd change-up (I say odd, because it rises more than his sinker, which is kind of amazing given that it’s slower).
He suffered a pectoral injury the next year, which may have had something to do with a completely different batted-ball profile. In 14 starts, his walk rate plunged nearly 18 percentage points, leading to a predictable increase in HRs-allowed. In 2013, again healthy, he enjoyed his best season thanks to a drop in walk rate. His GB% rebounded, but ended up splitting the difference between his 2011 and 2012 seasons. After injuries doomed his 2014 season, the Rockies released him, and he spent 2015 pitching for the Cleveland and Arizona systems, ultimately making a few starts for the Snakes late in the year.
At some point last year, he picked up a cutter, giving him a sixth pitch. Despite some ugly results with it in 2015, it’s become a pretty important pitch for him; he throws it more than any breaking/offspeed pitch. It’s thrown pretty hard (88mph), and has similar vertical break to his sinker. Taking his arsenal overall, Chacin’s able to get the ball to move quite a lot horizontally. The four-seam and cutter have very little, but his sinker has 8″ of armside run, while his slider and curve get 7-8″ of gloveside movement.
The slider’s his best pitch, and for a guy who’s struggled to miss bats, it’s kind of stunning to see the whiff rates he gets on it. In 2016, over half of the swings on it have come up empty, and he’s induced whiffs on over 40% of the 2,500+ he’s thrown throughout his career. Of course, sliders generally come with platoon split issues, and that’s just what we see with Chacin: in his career, his FIP is 1.2 runs better vs. RHBs than LHBs. Chacin started 2016 with the Braves, and had an up-and-down month. He was brilliant in his first start, tossing 6 shutout IP and striking out 8. In his last start, he gave up 8 runs in 4 2/3 IP, yielding *4* dingers in the process after not allowing one in his previous 4 starts. I have no idea what to expect from Chacin going forward. This is a decent move by the Angels to get a competent starter for nothing (they dealt ATL an org guy, since that’s pretty much all they’ve got), but no one thinks Chacin’s going to replace Garrett Richards’ – or even Andrew Heaney’s – production.
1: Aoki, LF
2: Smith, RF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, DH
5: Seager, 3B
6: Lind, 1B
7: Clevenger, C
8: Marte, SS
9: Martin, CF
Wanted to mention this Prospect Insider piece yesterday, but I forgot. Jason Churchill goes over the standouts in the M’s system over the year’s first month, including Tyler O’Neill and Tyler Herb. It’s a great overview, and I essentially agree with all of it. I’ve been really bullish on Tyler Marlette for years, but that’s getting tougher and tougher to sustain. Meanwhile, Churchill tabbing O’Neill as the #1 prospect before the year is looking better and better. It’s hard to overstate how out-of-step that move was with the consensus pick of Alex Jackson, and the M’s have had such terrible luck with high-HR, high-K guys hitting AA (Johermyn Chavez, anyone?). O’Neill’s transition to AA has been remarkable, and it’s definitely been one of the young season’s highlights.
The Rainiers dropped the series finale in Fresno, 4-3 in 10 innings. Astros prospect Joe Musgrove was tough for 5 IP, and the Grizz bullpen was pretty stout the rest of the way. Donn Roach pitched well for Tacoma, yielding 2 runs in 6 IP, but Jonathan Aro gave up the tying run in the 7th, and Paul Fry gave up a walk-off fielder’s choice in the 10th. Rob Brantly homered for Tacoma. Today, it’ll be Joe Wieland opening a homestand for Tacoma as they host Omaha. Today’s game’s at 5:05. Royals prospect Hunter Dozier was recently promoted, and has hit very well this season.
Jackson blanked Birmingham 2-0, thanks to 6 shutout innings from Ryan Yarbrough. Yarbrough K’d 7 without a walk. DJ Peterson doubled in a run, which made up for Tyler O’Neill going hitless for the 2nd time in 3 games after a 14 game hitting streak. Emilio Pagan notched the save; he’s given up 8 hits and 6 walks in 16 IP with 22 Ks and only a single run allowed. Brett Ash starts tonight’s game in Mobile against ex-D’Backs prospect Charles Brewer.
Bakersfield beat Stockton 4-1, getting a solid start from Eddie Campbell who held the Ports hitless into the 6th. Chantz Mack homered, and Ivan Sanchez picked up the save. The ex-Pirates minor leaguer now has 26 Ks in 18 2/3 IP. No word yet on today’s starter.
Clinton was rained out, so they’ll play two today. Nick Wells and Lukas Schiraldi start against the Peoria Chiefs.