Does anyone still want to argue that B.P. Chacon is a good pitcher? He has one quality start in four starts. He has twice failed to get out of the fourth inning. He has struck out more batters than he's walked in one start. That one start was a great one, but still.
There are three lessons to be learned from this game:
- B.P. Chacon stinks.
- This bullpen stinks.
- When it comes to players like Alex Rodriguez who might someday set records, we need some index of home run quality. Today, Rodriguez homered off Josh Sharpless and Masumi Kuwata. I'd be almost as impressed if you told me he homered twice off the Washington Wild Things.
...[I]t is Chacon's story that stands out the most.
He was a mechanical mess upon being acquired from the New York Yankees last summer and, in September, Colborn completely restructured his delivery -- more than any Pirates pitcher in 2006 -- to use a more upright stance.
The immediate result was an outrageous 10-mph increase in fastball velocity, and the lasting impact has been that Chacon pitched well enough in long relief this year to win a spot in the rotation. In his second outing, he struck out 10.
Yes, and then he was bad in his next start and horrible in the one after that. Chacon is still not a good pitcher.
And, more to the point, Colborn will not, and should not, be judged on what Chacon does. Chacon will be a free agent at the end of this season, so in the extremely unlikely event that Colborn has fixed him in any meaningful way, another team will probably reap the benefits.
No, Colborn will be judged on the staff as a whole and on what young players do. If Oliver Perez flops (or continues to flop, rather) under Colborn's tutelage and then returns to being a terrific pitcher soon after he's traded for pennies on the dollar, that hurts us a hell of a lot more than a rejuvenated B.P. Chacon helps us. If Colborn messes with Zach Duke's mechanics and then Duke all of a sudden loses the ability to pitch well almost immediately after Colborn's arrival, that just kills the future of the team.
As for the other young pitchers, the results are underwhelming. Paul Maholm is still not pitching well, and I find it odd that the Post-Gazette would claim that he's been better the last two weeks, during which he's allowed four runs or more in three straight starts. (I'll grant that the defense had a lot to do with the runs allowed in Maholm's last start, but he did issue five walks.) The bullpen, which features many young pitchers, is a complete disaster. Tom Gorzelanny and Ian Snell are the only young starters exceeding expectations.