The trade deadline is tomorrow, and it is more than likely the Padres will strike and make at least a few moves before the clock strikes 1 PM on July 31st.
Then, there is Jhoulys Chacin.
Chacin’s 1.5 fWAR ranks 40th among all starting pitchers in baseball, and although his numbers are not eye-popping, he is currently in the midst of one of the better stretches in his career. Signed by the Padres for $1.75 million, Chacin is 10-7 with a 4.22 ERA and a 4.32 FIP in 119 1/3 innings so far in 2017. During his first ten starts, he went 4-4 with a 5.74 ERA/4.61 FIP; giving up 56 hits in 53.1 IP. Hardly impressive.
However, since failing to get out of the first inning while giving up seven runs to the Mets on May 23rd, the Venezuelan native has been very good. In his last eleven starts, Chacin has an ERA of 3.00 in 66 innings pitched, and he has struck out 58 batters during this stretch. His FIP is 4.09, so he has been a bit fortunate. However, his walks and home runs allowed are trending downward, (he has only allowed two home runs since June 27th) which is always a good sign. Jhoulys has pitched ten straight games where he has gone at least five innings, so he has definitely found a groove.
A reason for the recent success?
It might be him throwing his slider more. Chacin has thrown his slider 641 times this season, already surpassing the 472 that he threw in all of 2016. Hitters are only hitting .159 off the pitch, and he has gotten 103 whiffs on it this season. It is clearly his best pitch, and one he goes to quite a bit. He is throwing it dramatically slower than years past, too:
The Padres did it with Pomeranz and it looks like they are doing it with Chacin as well. And while Chacin’s slider is not nearly as impressive as Pomeranz’s curveball, it has been effective nonetheless.
The one thing that teams are surely aware of while discussing Chacin is the discrepancy between his performance at Petco Park and on the road. At Petco Park, Chacin has a 2.05 ERA. On the road, his ERA balloons up to 7.35. Hitters have a .315/.387/.525 slash line against Jhoulys in starts not made at Petco. That is a problem. Although Chacin’s last three road starts (6 IP/2 ER at Wrigley, 6.1 IP/1 ER at Citizens Bank, 6 IP/2 ER at AT&T) are very good, it doesn’t erase the fact that Chacin has mostly gotten lit up away from his home ballpark.
Starting pitching is always desired at the trade deadline. Sonny Gray, Lance Lynn, Yu Darvish, Andrew Cashner, and Francisco Liriano, among others, all will be tweeted about and thrown around in trade scenarios up until 1 o’clock tomorrow. While the Jhoulys Chacin front is quiet for now, teams are always looking for cheap starting pitching options, and Chacin is just that. I would expect chatter to pick up.
The Padres should trade Chacin and get some sort value back for him. While he won’t net the most exciting return, a prospect with a bit of upside will be more than enough. For the Padres, it is all about adding any talent you can to the farm system, and they should (hopefully) be able to find that.