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Chacin's season has sashayed in the wrong direction

The Sports Xchange
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On June 15, Jhoulys Chacin won a start against the Padres and allowed one run in six innings. He improved his record to 8-4, lowered his ERA to 2.81 in 14 starts and was getting mentioned in discussions about pitchers on the National League All-Star team.

On Thursday, Chacin gave up nine hits and seven runs, four earned, in 5 2/3 innings in the Rockies' 8-5 loss to the Giants. Chacin is 11-12 with a season-high 3.73 ERA.

Since that mid-June outing against the Padres, Chacin, who is finishing his first full season in the majors, has gone 3-8 with a 4.70 ERA in 15 starts.

He averaged 3.29 walks and 7.84 strikeouts per nine innings in his first 14 starts. Chacin has averaged 5.11 walks and 7.06 strikeouts per nine innings in his past 15 starts. He pitched at least seven innings in seven of his first 14 starts, but he has worked at least seven innings in just four of his past 15 starts.

"Before, I could make a pitch to get out of an inning," Chacin said. "Right now, it's hard to throw that pitch to get a ground ball or fly ball, whatever, to get an out. That may be why I don't pitch deep in games and have less chance to win a game."

Chacin has pitched a career-high 181 innings. As a rookie last year, he logged 173 innings -- 137 1/3 with the Rockies and 35 2/3 for Class AAA Colorado Springs.

Chacin, 23, has enough of a pitch mix to be a successful starter, but too often he has been plagued by spotty fastball command that doesn't allow him to maximize the effectiveness of his very good secondary pitches.

"It's a concern," manager Jim Tracy said, referring to Chacin's command. "For him to take that quantum leap, he needs to clear that hurdle."

Tracy again said Chacin's issues stem from not being aligned properly with the plate when he delivers the ball and not keeping his head steady, all of which results in inconsistent fastball command.

This has been a lingering mechanical problem with Chacin. To make matters worse against the Giants, Pablo Sandoval hit for the cycle in four at-bats against Chacin.

"He hit everything I threw. ... It was his night," Chacin said.

Sandoval entered the game 0-for-5 against Chacin. But after Carlos Beltran singled with two outs in the first, Sandoval drove a 2-1 fastball into the second deck in right field for his 20th homer.

"It was supposed to be in and down, and the ball was in the middle, high," Chacin said. "When you make mistakes with your pitch, that's what you're going to get."

Copyright (C) 2011 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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