Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Jhoulys Chacin will undergo an MRI on Monday to investigate inflammation in his throwing shoulder, the team announced. Chacin will be shut down indefinitely as the club prepares for its first spring training games.
The nature and severity of the injury are currently unclear. Teams often opt for cautious approaches to physical problems this early in the spring, but the fact that they are sending one of their top starters for an MRI suggests this is more than just a precaution.
Chacin, 26, has been quietly effective for the Rockies over the last several years. He has racked up a 3.58 ERA (127 ERA+) in nearly 600 innings over the last four seasons, which is even more impressive considering that he pitches half of his games at hitter-friendly Coors Field. In 264 career innings on the road, he has posted a 2.86 ERA.
Chacin's steady performance continued in 2013. He made 31 starts and set a career high by tossing 197⅓ innings. His overall ERA was 3.47, but in 13 road starts he posted a mark of 2.44 in 81 innings. Although he doesn't strike out many hitters and his walk rates are nothing special, Chacin has displayed a sustained ability to limit hits and home runs.
Losing Chacin for any length of time would be a big blow to Colorado's rotation. He and Jorge De La Rosa slot in as the team's top two starters, and the rest of the rotation has plenty of question marks. Tyler Chatwood was impressive in 20 starts in 2013, but he is only 24 years old and has yet to pitch a full season in the majors. Brett Anderson, acquired from the Oakland Athletics during the offseason, has lots of talent but also owns an extensive injury history that has limited him to 163 innings over the last three seasons combined. Juan Nicasio and Jordan Lyles each posted ERAs over 5.00 last year, and Franklin Morales has never been a full-time starter.