On December 20th, the Milwaukee Brewers shored up the backend of their starting rotation by signing the soon-to-be thirty-year-old right-hander Jhoulys Chacin to a two-year, $15.5 million dollar contract. Chacin is coming off of what was perhaps the best season of his career. He was worth a career-high 2.9 WARP over 180.3 innings pitched with the San Diego Padres. Overall he finished with a 3.89 ERA and a 4.13 DRA.
After spending parts of six seasons with the Colorado Rockies and Coors Field from 2009 to 2014, then bouncing around the league and battling injuries in 2015 and 2016, Chacin found himself in San Diego on a one-year 1.8 million dollar deal, pitching his home games at Petco Park.Chacin took full advantage of Petco’s pitcher-friendly confines. In 100.3 innings pitching at Petco, he posted a 1.79 ERA. Despite his dominance at Petco Park, Chacin was terrible on the road. In 80 innings away from Petco Park, he posted a 6.53 ERA over 16 starts.
Chacin’s pitchers park factor (PPF) indicates that he was one of the luckiest pitchers in the league as far as which ballpark he found himself pitching in. His PPF of 89 was tied for fifth in the league, behind three Giants and another Padre (Luis Perdomo). In 2017, Petco Park had a runs factor of 88 for left-handed hitters and 95 for right-handed hitters.
Chacin will now call Miller Park home. The park, notoriously known as one of the most hitter-friendly parks in the league, had a runs factor of 104 for left-handed hitters and 103 for right-handed hitters in 2017.
Chacin’s final numbers, and his subsequent contact, look a lot less sexy when factoring in how much he benefited from Petco’s marine layer and spacious outfield. He more than likely won’t allow just eight home runs in over 100 innings at Miller Park, which he did last year at Petco. In contrast, he allowed 11 home runs in just 80 innings on the road.
If Chacin was signed to be a fixture in the Brewers’ rotation for the next two season, the club is likely to be disappointed. Chacin should be expected to regress solely because of his new home ballpark. The fact that he’ll be on the wrong side of 30 next month isn’t going to help.
At first glance, the Chacin signing seems like a shrewd move by Stearns. A simple investigation into his home/away splits shows why he came at such a cheap price in a starting pitcher hungry market. Brewers fans should be hoping Chacin isn’t seen as anything more than a #5 starter for the team over the next two years. If Brewers lore stops here and doesn’t plan on adding to an already depleted rotation with the loss of Jimmy Nelson, the team will struggle to finish above .500.
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