Oakland A’s newest starter, right-handed pitcher Jesse Chavez, is finally making a name for himself in the major leagues. Chavez joined the Athletics organization in 2012 and immediately became their designated long-reliever. He had yet to start a game in the O.co Coliseum until 2014 when he squeaked his way into the starting rotation after numerous pitchers incurred injuries during spring training. Chavez is now not only holding his own in the rotation, but has become one of the most reliable and exciting Athletic starters to watch.
Chavez’s career in baseball started when he was drafted in the 42-round by the Texas Rangers in 2002. After six years in the minor leagues and another six years bouncing around in the major leagues, Chavez is finally proving that he is meant to be a starting pitcher. It is rare to find a pitcher whose breakout year comes after more than decade of pitching, but Chavez’s determination and willingness to change has helped him find success at the ripe-old age of 30.
Chavez always had great pitching speed, and threw in the mid-to-high 90s throughout the majority of his pitching career. But he use to throw mainly fastballs that would land up in the strike zone, which would more likely than not result in a hit. Since coming to the Oakland A’s two years ago, he has worked on perfecting his sinker and cutter. These two pitches in conjunction with his already well established change-up has really helped Chavez pitch to each and every corner of the strike zone and keep batters on their toes.
Even though Chavez is still seen as a fill-in starter for the Oakland A’s, fans and critics alike are starting to notice his star potential. He currently has the lowest ERA in the Athletics’ rotation with a 1.38, which also happens to be the third lowest ERA in the American League. Additionally, he has struck out 28 and walked only five over 26 innings. Even though his speed has been dipping down slightly into the low 90s, Chavez demonstrates the utmost control over the ball and can consistently pitch to the lower corners of the strike zone.
Chavez has been so successful this season that he has even made franchise history. He has become the first Oakland A’s pitcher since 1914 to pitched at least six innings while allowing only one earned run in each of his four starts. With this being the first season he has started any major league game since 2012, this is quite an accomplishment.
When so many teams seemed to bypass Chavez during his early years in the MLB, the Oakland A’s saw something special in Chavez and have helped him develop into the star starting pitcher he has become today. Some are wary of how long this success will last due to Chavez’s age. However, if current starter Scott Kazmir and the Athletics’ 2013 ace Bartolo Colon can find success at 30- and 40-years-old respectively, then Chavez can definitely be successful throughout the entirety of the 2014 season – especially after reinventing his pitching style over the past two years.