Jhoulys Chacin made his return to the mound on Sunday.
The test has arrived for the 2013 Colorado Rockies.
Jhoulys Chacin returned from the disabled list on Sunday with a 1st inning thud, settled in for four very good innings, then struggled again in the 6th. There were flashes of the pitcher who has ace stuff, but the rust was certainly evident, especially in the early going.
The Rockies ended up losing 8-3, with the offense only able to put runs on the board via the solo home run. With runners in scoring position the offense failed to deliver a hit, going 0-for-9. That, combined with Chacin's outing, along with two crucial passed balls by Wilin Rosario behind the plate, combined to doom the Rockies on Sunday afternoon.
This early in the season, with the history that the Rockies have from 2012, and the way they have shown fight and battled back after tough losses, should make it easy for the team to wash this one off. At this point it isn't a trend that has gone on long enough to worry about it, so it should be assumed that this was the exception, not the rule.
The Rockies so far in 2013 have been a completely different baseball team than a year ago. For the most part they have been extremely sharp. They have played with discipline and look like they desire to win every game that they have been a part of. Sunday's game was the first game that they simply got outplayed in nearly every category.
For the most part, Chacin's outing should be an encouraging one. The struggles in the 1st inning was him trying to find his command. Even with just a couple of weeks on the disabled list, a pitcher can lose an edge. It took the 1st inning for Chacin to regain the crispness of his offspeed pitches. Once he settled in, he was the same pitcher that has been an encouraging sign for the Rockies.
With the Rays gone and the Yankees rolling into town, the Rockies are in the midst of a huge early season test. The Yankees, plagued by injuries, are still finding ways to win. Good pitching has sustained them as they have seen nearly all of their superstars have fallen victim to injury in the early-going.
The Rockies have a chance to make a statement on the national stage. If they can find a way to take two-of-three from the Yankees, they will instantly turn from a nice early-season story into a true contender. Look back at 2007. The Rockies had a horrible April, but turned things around with a seven-game winning streak in May. In June they met the Yankees for a three game series at Coors Field. The Rockies played with swagger and swept the dumbfounded Yankees right out of Denver. The momentum from that series seemed to propel them into what ended up being a World Series run.
This Rockies team is very similar to that 2007 team. There is plenty of talent, but most of the stars are still young. This team has a certain level of swagger, being able to bounce back from tough losses, and never being out of a game. If this Rockies team is able to put together a good series against the Yankees, the attitude that could hit the clubhouse could give them enough belief in themselves that they just might find a way to stay around the top of the National League West for the entire season.
This series will be a test for the Rockies to tell whether or not they actually do believe in themselves, or if they are a paper tiger. They have a chance to show a big-money team that they can compete with them, or they can show them that they still are a notch below and are still trying to figure out how to compete with everyone, not just the other second-tier teams.
Tuesday through Thursday should tell Rockies fans what they are going to see throughout the remainder of the 2013. This could be a Rockies team that is fun to watch, but isn't a team that has any chance to contend, or they could be a team that is fun to watch because, although young, has enough talent to compete with the big boys and if they put everything together, might just be able to make a run at the postseason.
The test has arrived for the Rockies. Whether they pass that test will be known by Thursday afternoon.