One of the breakout pitching stars so far in the 2014 MLB season is starter Jesse Chavez of the Oakland Athletics. The 30-year-old had been nothing more than a career bullpen pitcher previously in life, but an influx of Spring Training injuries to the Athletics’ rotation presented him with an opportunity.
Chavez has been brilliant in making six starts for Oakland this season. He is 2-0 with a 1.89 ERA and a K:BB of 41:8 across 38 innings pitched in 2014. His only real blemish came in his second start of the season against the Houston Astros (fourth start overall) on Apr. 25. Chavez lasted five innings and surrendered five runs (four earned) in the no decision. He also gave up eight hits, the most against him in a single outing this year.
So the question must be posed, since the Astros lineup was able to figure out Chavez the second time around, can the Seattle Mariners do the same?
Chavez made his first start of the season against the Mariners back on Apr. 3. He was dealt a no-decision in a game the Athletics eventually won, posting a quality start. The Mariners have a better offense than the Astros, but they can only be considered marginally better. It is worth noting that despite Chavez’ 2-0 personal record, the A’s have won every game he has hurled in this year. He gives Oakland good, quality innings and works deep into ball games, having gone seven innings in three of his last five starts.
The Mariners will no doubt have a better scouting report on Chavez the second time around. They are on a bit of a hot streak right now, winning eight of their last 10 ball games. But Chavez is now approaching mid-season form, and will have the home crowd behind him tonight.
His home splits in 2014 give him an ERA of 1.50, where he has allowed only one home run, and opponents have a batting average of .200 against him. Even more disheartening for Mariners fans, is that in his career versus Seattle across nine appearances and 17 innings pitched, Chavez has a 0.53 ERA and has held the M’s to a .180 batting average.
In his most current Apr. 30 start at the Texas Rangers, a club renowned for their high scoring offense at a hitter friendly home park, Chavez had his best outing of the year. Allowing only one hit and one walk across seven scoreless innings, he struck out eight and picked up the win.
Tonight, within the spacious confines of Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, Chavez will build on his success this year and snap the Mariners three-game win streak.