BY LESLIE MONTEIRO
A baseball team features a player that blossoms out of nowhere during the course of the baseball season.
The Rockies have one in Tyler Chatwood this season.
Ever since he was called up from Triple-A Colorado Springs on May 18, he allowed two earned runs or less in 12 of his 14 starts. He also has won six starts during that period.
Chatwood put on another great performance by allowing two runs on six hits while walking none in seven innings in the Rockies’ 8-3 victory over the Brewers last night at Coors Field. That win gave him his seventh win of the season, and his ERA remains the same from his last start at 2.48.
He was so good that Rockies manager Walt Weiss let him throw 106 pitches to complete the seventh inning. That’s something since the Rockies don’t want pitchers to throw past 99 pitches at anytime.
Jorge De La Rosa is the ace for the Rockies, but that could be changing with the way Chatwood is pitching.
The Rockies expect great starts when Chatwood is pitching, and he backs it up when he is on the mound. It does not become an accident anymore when he pitches well in 12 of his 14 starts.
Chatwood has electric stuff when he is throwing on the mound. His command is superb, and he knows how to paint the strike zone. He executes his slider well as his out pitch when he is ahead of the count. He uses his fastball, breaking ball, slider and curveball well to confuse hitters. He knows what he is doing out there.
Last night was a great example when five of his first six outs were strikeouts. He overwhelmed the Brewers with sliders, curveballs and fastballs. That set the tone for another good outing, and he finished the night with a career-high 11 strikeouts.
Anytime a pitcher knows how to get strikeouts, he knows he can dominate the ballgame. That’s the case with Chatwood right now.
Sooner or later, it is time to admit he is an elite pitcher if he can sustain this. That would be something.
The Rockies have been dying to find a starter that can throw strikes and dominate in a ballgame. They have searched for a starter that is a lock to help them win a ballgame.
It has been a long search, but they may have found one in Chatwood.
Of course, he has to show he can do this for the next few years.
The Rockies thought Ubaldo Jimenez was going to be the ace for the next six years, but that didn’t work out. He lost his ability to throw strikes, and he became ineffective to the point he was traded to the Indians. He became a headcase as he absorbed all the losses.
Based on Jimenez’s experience, it’s understandable why the Rockies want to be careful in anointing Chatwood as an ace.
It’s easy for anyone to get excited with what Chatwood is doing, though. He is doing things elite pitchers are doing by vowing fans with his fastball, slider, curveball and breakball. Even hitters are saying he is tough to hit.
No one can blame Rockies fans for being excited about Chatwood.
It’s rare to see a Rockie do great on the mound as a starter. There has been awful or mediocre pitching when it comes to Rockies’ starting pitching since the inception of the franchise. That’s why Chatwood’s story is special.
Keep in mind Chatwood has gone through failures as a Rockie after the Angels traded him for Chris Iannetta. He has been demoted to the minors so many times after he was hit around in the majors. To his credit, he persevered in the minors. He kept developing his slider and curveball in the minors, and it paid off for him.
That’s something Drew Pomeranz can learn from Chatwood while he is trying to make a name of himself as a starter for the Rockies.
Chatwood’s story is neat, and he can validate it by having a great season. He is capable of winning 15 games and having an ERA of 2.48. He is currently on that pace with the stuff he is throwing on the mound.
Chatwood’s success has gotten to the point that he has become a must-see TV when he starts. This is what happens when a starter is dominating every start.
He won’t get the recognition that Matt Harvey, Adam Wainwright, Clayton Kershaw or other starters get by baseball pundits.
That’s okay with him. He knows he has lot to prove before he can be mentioned in the same sentence of those starters.
Make no mistake, though. He knows he is as good as them.
He certainly is pitching like it.
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