Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Tyler Chatwood needed to bounce back in the worst way Wednesday night to salvage any hopes of remaining in the teams starting rotation. Chatwood seemed to be moving along quickly through the New York Mets batting order until the middle innings ate him up. The right-hander gave up eight runs (seven earned) on seven hits through just 5 1/3 innings as his ERA rose to 5.11.
The Rockies seemingly started the wrong pitcher Wednesday night. Rookie Antonio Senzatela came out of the bullpen in the seventh inning and dominated the Mets from that point on. Senzatela was living in the upper-90’s with his fastball, topping out at 97.4 mph with a wicked hook to go along with it. He gave up just one hit through three strong innings, walking none while striking out four.
Chatwood was cruising until one of his pitches got away from him in the fourth inning, ricocheting and hitting the home plate umpire Kerwin Danley square on the hand. Up until that point, Chatwood had recorded nine outs on just 27 pitches.
After the 13-minute delay, it was all downhill for Chatwood. You’d have to wonder if the break mentally and physically affected him.
“Not really, it was a long break no doubt about that,” Chatwood said. “It’s not really an excuse.”
Chatwood was inevitably cruising until the incident with the umpire, in which he was asked after the game what the difference was before and after the delay.
“Not giving up hits.” Chatwood joked. “I was executing the same pitches, there was a lot of soft contact that got through and then obviously the big blow [Granderson] and it was the pitch we wanted to throw. We might’ve just went in there one too many times.”
This marks Chatwood’s second rough start in as many games (both against the Mets) during an up but mostly down year. The 27-year-old is 6-12 on the season with an ERA of 5.11 while posting a career-worst FIP of 5.24. Chatwood has issued 63 walks (most in MLB) in 21 games (20 starts). He is currently on pace to surpass his career-high which was 71 back in 2011 with the Los Angeles Angels over 27 games (25 starts).
When Chatwood is on his “A-game”, he is hard to beat. In wins this season (6-0 record), Chatwood has given up seven runs on 20 hits while walking 14 and striking out 31 over 43 1/3 innings pitched — good for an ERA of 1.47 and a WHIP of 0.791. As far as the loss column goes, well, it’s not pretty (thus the losses). Chatwood has given up 53 runs on 70 hits while walking 42 and striking out 48 over 56 2/3 innings — an ERA of 8.42 and a WHIP of 1.976.
It has always boiled down to command for the right-hander throughout his career.
Like we saw on Wednesday night, Chatwood was fantastic against the Mets order the first time through. On the season, opponents are hitting .212/.306/.333 against Chatwood the first time through. As the game goes on, this is where we see Chatwood lose his command.
The second time through the lineup is where it starts to get bumpy. Opponents are hitting .270/.361/.480 with 71 total bases. As for the third time through, this is where the power numbers start to appear. The average is about the same, sitting at .269, but the on-base percentage takes a little dip at .350 while the slugging percentage rises to .620. Opponents combine for nine home runs the third time through, which is more than the first and second combined (8).
Just by looking at the splits, Chatwood’s game (for now) is more suited for the bullpen.
Prior to Wednesday night’s start, Chatwood made an appearance out of the pen against the St. Louis Cardinals on the road. He came into the game in the seventh inning, giving up one run on one hit, walking two and striking out one.
Colorado could certainly wait until Chad Bettis is back up with the club t0 make this move, but with the team currently fending off teams for one of the Wild Card spots, they have another quick option as well and that’s flipping Senzatela into Chatwood’s role.