Jhoulys Chacin diagnosed with pectoral injury after getting second opinion

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UPDATE: Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports that Chacin was diagnosed with an injury to his pectoral minor muscle involving a nerve entrapment. This rules out an injury to his biceps, shoulder or elbow.

The injury can be treated through rest and exercise, but Chacin isn’t expected to resume throwing for at least another few weeks.

2:14 PM: Jhoulys Chacin’s shoulder injury hasn’t gotten any better in three weeks on the disabled list, so the Rockies are sending the 24-year-old right-hander for a second opinion.

“We just can’t figure out what’s going on right now,” general manager Dan O’Dowd told Thomas Harding of MLB.com. “Our medical people are very creative people. They’re looking for answers.”

Chacin was initially going to be optioned to Triple-A, but when an MRI exam showed inflammation in his shoulder the Rockies canceled the demotion and instead placed him on the DL. He hasn’t been cleared to resume throwing yet and Chacin’s struggles dating back to the second half of last season are worrisome.

Harding notes that Chacin went 8-4 with a 2.71 ERA through his first 15 starts last season, but is just 3-13 with a 5.14 ERA since then. During spring training O’Dowd publicly questioned Chacin’s offseason conditioning program, which the pitcher didn’t appreciate, and according to Harding he also kept shoulder soreness from the training staff for quite a while.

James Paxton will “nerd out big-time” to stay healthy next year

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To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.

So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”

When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.

Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.