A lot can change quickly in Major League Baseball. There’s no better evidence of that often unfortunate reality than the Colorado Rockies decision to grant Jhoulys Chacin his unconditional release on Sunday.
Two years ago at this time, Chacin was set to make his first opening day start for Colorado. He went on to become a 14-game-winner that season, posting a very respectable 3.47 ERA while pitching half his games at Coors Field. It was supposed to be the season that cemented him as the Rockies long-awaited ace.
Then 2014 happened.
Chacin’s season was marred by relentless shoulder problems, which included fraying of the rotator cuff. He was shut down for good in June, but managed to avoid shoulder surgery. Unfortunately, it would appear he’s still not close to one-hundred percent despite months of rest and rehab, or at least not close enough for the Rockies to feel comfortable guaranteeing his full $5.5 million salary. By released him now, they’re only on the hook for $1.34 million.
“I was kind of 50-50,” Chacin told Nick Groke of the Denver Post on Sunday. “I haven’t been pitching well. I haven’t been doing what I wanted to do. But I’m surprised. I didn’t expect it at this time, but now I have a chance to find something else.”
The 27-year-old right-hander was signed by the Rockies as an amateur free agent in 2004 and made his big-league debut in 2009. Over his six seasons with Colorado, he posted a 3.78 ERA. His final start with the Rockies came on Saturday, when he allowed four runs on seven hits in three innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Manager Walt Weiss already announced that Philadelphia Phillies castoff Kyle Kendrick will start their season opener April 6 in Milwaukee. Last season’s opening day starter, Jorge De La Rosa, was slated for the home opener, but his status is in question after aggravating a groin injury on Friday.
What this news almost guarantees is that Colorado will go with a youth movement in their rotation. Jon Gray, the third overall pick in 2013 draft, could be ready to break camp with the club. David Hale, Eddie Butler and Christian Bergman all figure to be in the mix as well, with Kendrick, a hopefully healthy De La Rosa and Jordan Lyle serving as the veteran anchors.
As for Chacin, he’s sure to get numerous looks from depth-deprived teams over the next few weeks. His talent, when healthy, is unquestioned, but he’ll have to prove he still has the fuel to make it work.
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