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Fact OR Fiction v1.1
With five starts under his belt, Gustavo Chacin is 4-1 with a 2.48 ERA. The left-hander will finish the season with 15 or more wins and an ERA at or below 4.00.
Welcome back for the second part of Fact or Fiction, and if you read last Monday's piece on Shea Hillenbrand, you, as well as myself are well aware that it is indeed a long season where predicting the outcome of certain players can surely be a tough task. Nonetheless, today we tackle one of the most pleasant surprises in Toronto (let alone the big leagues) so far, in Gustavo Chacin.
The young 24-year-old lefty from Venezuela hasn't had the most typical rise to the big leagues. The non-drafted Chacin signed with the Blue Jays in July of 1998 and had decent success at the Rookie-ball and Single A levels, but seemed to stall at Double A where he spent four seasons. His numbers weren't brutal by any means but Chacin hadn't really progressed to deserve a promotion to Triple A Syracuse. It wasn't until his fifth go-round at Double A where he started to find his niche.
Chacin went 16-2 at Double A New Hampshire with a 2.86 ERA in 2004. The Fisher Cats won the Eastern League crown and not only did Chacin win 16 games there, he won both of his starts at Triple A Syracuse when he was called up. While living thru a dream season, Chacin earned a reward, which was given to him in the form of a September call-up to the big club in Toronto. Chacin had the unimaginable task of facing the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium in his major league debut. It didn't seem to faze him though as he dazzled on the mound and kept the New York hitters off balance. He won that game too.
Now let's fast forward to today. Chacin has gotten off to great start, which can only be matched by staff ace Roy Halladay at 4-1. Gustavo has the better ERA, but don't tell that to Roy, ha ha.
The Baltimore Orioles are Chacin's next opponent and it should be a great game. I tend to believe that he stacks up rather well against the Oriole hitters. His looping slider should give Jay Gibbons and Rafael Palmeiro trouble and his cut-fastball should be effective against their right-handed hitters as well. He will have to keep the ball down in the zone and work both sides of the plate because we all know Camden Yards is a homer-happy park. If he can do this, and get a few runs from his offence, he'll be staring at win number five.
Now to have a rookie win 15 games at the big league level is tough. The only recent one that comes to mind is Colorado's Jason Jennings who won the Rookie of the Year award in 2002. Gustavo is at a crucial part of the schedule. In his next six starts, he'll be facing the Orioles, Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Washington Nationals, Boston Red Sox and Seattle Mariners. Four of those teams have winning records, two being division leaders.
Chacin does have an edge though. He has never faced five of those teams. And if he prepares well and uses his scouting reports efficiently like he has so far this season, he should stand a chance at reaching 15 wins. Unfortunately though, Chacin hasn't shown he can beat a same team twice. He'll need to adjust and grow as a pitcher or he'll get batted around like he did in his only loss of 2005 by the hands of the New York Yankees.
The final verdict is in. Gustavo Chacin will win 15 games, but will not be able to keep his ERA at or below 4.00. So the statement above is most certainly: FICTION
Tune in next week as we turn our attention to the minor leagues and another New Hampshire Fisher Cat, Josh Banks!
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