For the most part, there is general theme that I try to cover in this series. Usually, I like to concentrate on the heavily owned guys, say, in the top-100. And within that 100-or-so range, I try to focus on ones that scare the shittake mushroom out of us. Or, players who show us something that is unexpected. A new skill or the deterioration of production are prodded, shaken (not stirred) until we find a suitable conclusion. This is what I do. And while Jhoulys Chacin definitely does not fit the former of what I cover, he does fit the latter quite well. And while he won’t get confused as a player in the top-100, there was a time and a place not too long ago when he was considered a guy with potential, and a pitcher, who, if everything came together, could be a lot more. Plus, you know, this is my series, I do what I want.
Coming off a season where Chacin had a career low K/9 of 5.87, a career high BB/9 of 4.17, a career high HR/9 of 1.30 and an ERA of 4.43 with a FIP of 5.15, well, let’s just say not much was expected for 2013. While he has an even lower K/9 than last year, he has been able to cut his BB/9 in half, to the tune of 2.43. And, also has somehow figured out how to suppress the gopher ball, to a career low 0.35 HR/9. These peripherals have fueled a career best 3.24 ERA and 3.17 FIP. Now, you’ll notice that I used the word ‘career’ a lot. The reason is, besides the pedestrian strikeout rate, we are seeing an entirely new pitcher. And, in this case, a fantasy relevant pitcher.
Obviously, your staff cannot be full of guys named Kershaw and Strasburg and Price. I mean, they can, but then, who’s on your offense? Darwin Barney and Lyle Overbay? Cool story, bro. So, besides the one ace and/or 2nd starter and bullpen pieces, you’re basically left with a number of high-risk/high-reward fillers and #3 starters to fill your fantasy staff. Chacin has now become a fusion of both. And remember, he’s been able to do this in one of the most homer friendly ballparks in the Majors. In fact, Chacin’s HR/FB rate of 5.7% is lower than Matt Harvey, Clayton Kershaw, and Adam Wainwright. Wait, what?
When I find a pitcher doing what he’s not supposed to be doing, good or bad, I want to see the trends in his Plate Discipline numbers.
Well, as you can clearly see, there’s a trend if there ever was one. Over the course of four seasons, Chacin has transformed himself from a pitcher who doesn’t pitch to contact into one who does. Obvious table is obvious. If you notice in the above table, he is throwing in the zone more, ‘pitching to contact’ as they say, and it shows up with the decrease in swinging strikes and uptick in contact%. Add in the fact that last season, his GB% and FB% sat at 38.5 and 37.2, respectfully. Now in 2013? 47.0% and 28.2%. That certainly begins to explain how Chacin has been able to only give up six home runs on the year. But that’s only part of the picture. Again, there is another aspect as Chacin’s profile that is changing. And do you know what that is? I’ll give you a hint. A GIF-hint (the best kind of hint)…
In these four instances, you’ll see what happens when Jhoulys Chacin throws his slider effectively.
In this instance, you’ll see what happens with me when I realize I’ve let someone use my computer without erasing my browsing history.
Now, if you didn’t figure it out by now, you’re probably blind. So be sure to let your seeing-eye dog know to read out what the next table says. It’ll shed light on the whole situation. And yes, those instructions make total sense. No they don’t.
Based on his usage and sequencing, the curveball has fallen by the wayside in his repertoire. Why is that? Simply put, the curveball is the one pitch that is most negatively affected at a mile above sea-level. And what has taken its place? The slider has now become the primary out-pitch, or ‘go-to’ pitch, and, of course, it is the one non-fastball pitch that is least negatively affected in Coors Field.
Granted, we aren’t talking about a top-tier pitcher, I’ve admitted as much. But in fantasy baseball, it’s not always about the best, it’s about the best value. And there is a certain amount of value to found here. Specifically speaking, for the rest of this year and for next season, I believe he’s firmly in the area that starts with Jordan Zimmermann and ends with, let’s say, Doug Fister. And by this ‘area’, I mean low-strikeout guys who put up good rates and work very well as mid-range accessories in your fantasy staffs. You could say something like, “Well, why not just take Zimmermann or Fister in this case? Why do I want to buy someone with so much risk?” That actually proves my point. Funny you should ask that question in that exact way. I think we were meant to be together. And by we, I’m talking about myself, since I’m the one who asked the question. The answer would be, because with those guys, you have to pay full price.
Look, the fact that Chacin is putting up a year quite different than he ever has, and he’s doing it in a ballpark that is notorious for offense, both of those things depress the price enough to where you can buy at discount. And you can invest here without prejudice, since you have this nice n’ nifty post to reinforce the fact that you can buy your very own #3 starter cheaper than everyone else. I’ve shown you the way. I’ve shown you the numbers. And I’ve shown you the GIF’s. The rest is up to you.
Jaywrong is a 30-year old Korish writer who finds solace using Makers Mark as a vehicle to impress women, and also has an affinity for making Jennifer Lawrence GIFs. You can follow him @jaywrong, read his blog Desultory Thoughts of a Longfellow, or, you can find his GIFs at his tumblr, named Siuijeonseo.