Possibly the biggest story to come out of the forgettable 2017 Orioles season was the terrible starting rotation. If you pay attention to Baltimore Baseball, this shouldn’t be news to you.
The Orioles presently only have Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy set to return to that rotation. There are internal options to fill the vacancies left by the departure of Ubaldo Jiménez, Wade Miley, and Chris Tillman. Those internal options just aren’t very inspiring, as they top-out with pitchers the caliber of Alec Asher, Gabriel Ynoa, and Miguel Castro. Maybe one of those three could surprise in 2018, but all three will not.
Heading into the 2017-2018 offseason, fans were clamoring for the Birds to sign a big-name starting pitcher such as Yu Darvish or Alex Cobb. Unfortunately, the Orioles are reportedly not interested in ponying-up for either of the pair. The O’s have also let potential targets Tyler Chatwood and Doug Fister come off the free agent board.
Dan Duquette has a well-documented fascination with having at least one left-handed starting pitcher in the rotation at all times. Jhoulys Chacín doesn’t check that box, and he’s not the superstar we were hoping for--so why should the O’s target him?
First and foremost, the Orioles should probably target almost anybody capable of filling quality MLB innings. They essentially need to build three-fifths of an MLB rotation out of who-knows-where. But I didn’t pick Chacín as a potential target at random.
So who is he?
Chacín was originally signed as an international free agent by the Colorado Rockies, making his MLB debut in 2009 at the ripe, young age of 21. Chacín struggled to mediocrity through most of 2009-2011 as a member of the Rockies, but it was speculated that the conditions at Coors Filed caused him trouble in controlling the break of his curveball. A pitcher fulfill his potential as a member of the Rockies wouldn’t be the craziest thing to ever happen.
Overall, Chacín threw a total of 329.2 IP for Colorado, across which he tallied a 4.04 ERA, 1.37 WHIP and 213/121 K/BB ratio. Colorado released Chacín just before the 2015 season, and he caught on with the Indians on a MiLB deal. He would opt-out of that deal, and throw 26.2 IP with the Diamondback’s big club in 2015, amassing a 3.38 ERA and 1.28 WHIP.
Chacín had an uneven 2016 with the Braves and Angels, but had himself a year in 2017 with the Padres. He threw 180.1 IP and had a 3.89 ERA and 1.27 WHIP. Chacín is not Yu Darvish or Alex Cobb, but if he can come close to repeating that performance in 2018 and beyond, he is guaranteed to be a steal in free agency. He’s not on anybody’s “top” list, and would likely come relatively cheap.
In fact, mlbtraderumors.com pegged Jhoulys Chacín as a pitcher who may run under the radar in free agency this offseason in an article that cited his 19.9 K%, 49% groundball rate, and 28.3% hard contact allowed rate as reasons he could repeat his 2017 statistics.
Because the Orioles have all but held a press conference to announce that they won’t be spending huge on free agent pitching, hunting for bargains to fill the rotation is going to be crucial to the success of the 2018 club. Jhoulys Chacín seems like he could fit the bill.
What do you think?