Chico looks to turn fortunes around with fresh start in York
His numbers haven’t been great this year, certainly no where near what he’s done throughout his career.
Yet, there is reason for optimism for Matt Chico. The newly acquired starting pitcher made his debut for the York Revolution on Monday night, but he gave up five runs on six hits with four walks and three strikeouts in just four innings of work.
It was a continuation of the struggles he’s had this season.Chicocame over toYorkafter being released from the New Jersey Jackals (independent Can-Am League) late last week.
In five starts forNew Jersey, the 29-year-old lefty posted an 0-4 record and 9.39 ERA. He struck out 13 and walked 11 in 23 innings of work.
In need of starting pitching, Revs’ pitching coach Mark Mason had Chico travel to Somerset over the weekend (York was in the middle of a four-game series at Somerset) to throw a bullpen session. And Mason liked what he saw.
“He had good movement on his pitches,” Mason said ofChico. “I thought his arm strength is good enough. He probably wasn’t at his best there (New Jersey).”
Bullpen:Chico’s fastball topped out at 88 miles per hour on Monday. He said that’s the normal speed he’s been at most of his career, mainly relying on off-speed pitches. And that’s probably why he feels more comfortable as a starter than a reliever.
Just a year ago, the Washington Nationals tried movingChicointo the bullpen for the first time in his career.
The 5-foot, 11-inch, 190-pound southpaw bounced between Class AA Harrisburg, Class AAA Syracuse and GCL Nationals, combining for a 5.87 ERA in 27 games (two starts).
“I’ve never been in the bullpen before. I didn’t know how to just get ready. I’m used to throwing 40 pitches before a game trying to get hot. I struggled out of the bullpen,”Chicosaid. “I feel like I’m better as a starter just stuff-wise. I’m more of an off-speed pitcher. A bullpen guy…most guys are throwing 90 to 95 (miles an hour).”
Chico is trying to work his way back into a role where he’s found the most success in his now 10-year pro career.
A former third-round draft pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2003, Chico would be traded along with right-hander Garrett Mock to the Nationals August 7, 2006 in exchange for righty Livan Hernandez.
The following season, the Florida resident made the Nats’ starting rotation out of spring training. He would make 31 starts that year in his rookie season, going 7-9 with a 4.63 ERA. Having never previously pitched above Class AA,Chicothat year led the Nats’ staff in starts, innings, strikeouts and wins while ranking No. 2 in the majors in starts by a rookie behind Boston’s Daisuke Matsuzaka (32).
Chico would be the Nats’ No. 2 starter coming out of spring training in 2008, but went 0-6 with a 6.19 ERA in 11 games (eight starts) and was optioned to Class AAA Columbus. He made just one appearance for Columbus before undergoing Tommy John surgery.
He made it back to action in 2009 and reached the majors again with the Nats’ in 2010, starting in just one game.Chicohas totaled 43 games (40 startes) in the majors with Washington, going 7-15 with a 4.95 ERA from 2007 through 2010.
Reclamation project: Mason has proven before he can help pitchers turn things around. The most recent example is probably York’s left-hander Chris Cody, who had a 9.92 ERA in his first four starts this year. After Cody worked on some of his mechanics with Mason, Cody has a 1.80 ERA in his last six starts.
So, maybe Mason can help out Chico, too. After all, Chico has enough velocity to succeed in the Atlantic League, but it’s his control that needs to be fixed.
“He kind of lost his rhythm after the first two innings. I don’t know if it was because runners were on base and he was trying to be perfect,” Mason said. “He has a tendency to get fast. We’re going to work on some stuff in the ‘pen. He threw the ball good enough except for that one inning (on Monday).”