Milwaukee Brewers: Jhoulys Chacin needs to step up

SAN DIEGO, CA - MARCH 30: Jhoulys Chacin
SAN DIEGO, CA - MARCH 30: Jhoulys Chacin /

Newly acquired starting pitcher Jhoulys Chacin made his Milwaukee Brewers debut in the second game of the season in San Diego. Despite being in a ballpark he was familiar with, and had a ton of success in prior to last night, he struggled mightily.

Jhoulys Chacin threw just 3 1/3 innings in his first appearance with the Milwaukee Brewers. That’s a problem for a pitcher who was brought in to eat up innings. He gave up four earned runs, seven hits, and two walks with just the one strikeout. There were flashes where he showed the nasty movement on some of his pitches, but he struggled throughout the game with hitting his spots.

What were the expectations for Chacin with the Brewers?

Chacin doesn’t often throw a straight and hard fastball. All of his pitches have movement, and his best pitch is his slider. Pitchers like him are very difficult for hitters, but it’s also easier for pitchers like Chacin to lose control and miss their spots. He’s been known to leave balls over the plate or having issues with control.

When Chacin was brought in as a free agent all the way back in December, he was considered as more of a project. He wasn’t expected to be a significant part of the rotation, even with Jimmy Nelson hurt. Since the Milwaukee Brewers didn’t make any other additions to the rotation, Chacin has to become a solid pitcher for this team to stay afloat.

Chacin isn’t the second best pitcher in the rotation, despite pitching in the second game. Even in this rotation he is more of a third or fourth starter. The Milwaukee Brewers wanted Zach Davies to pitch the home opener in the fourth game. Chacin’s role is bigger than originally thought, and he needs him step up, especially while Nelson is down.

What happens when Nelson returns?

When Nelson comes back, then Chacin’s role with the team changes depending on how he does before that point. Nelson’s return may require Chacin to move out of the rotation. That discussion is a few months down the road, but right now, Chacin needs to hold down the fort.

Struggles in a pitchers first start of the year shouldn’t cause fans too much worry. Even the best pitchers have rough first starts, and sometimes bad pitchers have very good first starts. It takes a larger sample size to properly analyze and get a feeling for a pitcher.

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Chacin has very good stuff. He was quietly a very solid pitcher for the Padres last season. But the situation with the Milwaukee Brewers is different as he will be primarily pitching in more hitter friendly parks. He will also have the pressure of pitching for a winning team on him. Chacin making the necessary adjustments and contributing is a key story line to watch in the first half.