After a forgettable second half last season and a disappointing start to 2012, Jhoulys Chacin - following more than three months on the shelf - returned to the mound in impressive fashion earlier this week.
Chris Volstad, meanwhile, hasn't been able to take many positives away from his recent efforts on the hill.
Chacin squares off against Volstad - winless in his last 24 starts - as the Colorado Rockies and Chicago Cubs conclude a three-game set Sunday at Wrigley Field.
While Chacin (1-3, 6.16 ERA) appeared headed for stardom after going 8-4 with a 2.71 ERA in his first 15 starts of 2011, he finished the year with an 11-14 record. The right-hander saw his woes carry into this season, going 0-3 with a 7.30 ERA over five starts through May 1 before landing on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation.
If Tuesday's display is any indication, though, Chacin may have found his form. He allowed one run and four hits over six innings, walking none in a 6-2 road win over the New York Mets.
"It was so good to see him back out there, but (especially) to have him back out there tonight commanding his fastball in the manner in which he did tonight," manager Jim Tracy told the Rockies' official website. "It's been quite a while since we've seen Jhoulys Chacin go out and command his fastball in the manner in which he did."
Chacin threw his only career shutout April 15, 2011, in a 5-0 home victory over the Cubs (48-77), although he's been knocked around in two starts at Wrigley, losing both while compiling a 7.59 ERA.
Unlike Chacin, Volstad (0-9, 6.88) hasn't shown any signs of turning things around. The right-hander gave up four runs and seven hits over six innings last Sunday, getting a no-decision in a 5-4 loss at Cincinnati.
Volstad is 0-14 with a 5.54 ERA over his 24-start winless stretch dating to July 17, 2011, while with the Marlins.
"I'm done with that (thinking about the streak)," he said. "If you win five in a row are you going to worry about winning your next game? If you lose five in a row are you going to worry about losing the next one or are going to go out and try to win every time you go out there? That's all I'm doing."
Volstad will do his best to slow down suddenly hot Colorado (51-74), which improved to 6-1 over its last seven games with Saturday's 4-3 victory. Andrew Brown hit his first major league homer while fellow rookie Josh Rutledge connected on a pinch-hit, two-run shot.
"It's good for our kids, as young as we are," Tracy said. "To be involved in games like this, and the realization we are playing in this type of game, there is no room for error."
While Colorado's bats came up big Saturday, its much-maligned pitching staff has led the way during the recent run. Rockies pitchers have compiled a 1.74 ERA over the last seven games, including a 1.16 mark from the bullpen.
Though Chicago is batting .211 during a 5-19 stretch, Colorado will need to be wary of rookie Brett Jackson. The promising center fielder hit a two-run homer Saturday - his second long ball in as many days.
"He had some good swings," manager Dale Sveum said. "That should be helping him out confidence-wise."
Starlin Castro is 1 for 10 lifetime versus Chacin while Anthony Rizzo is 1 for 5. Rizzo is mired in a 7-for-38 (.184) funk over his last 10 games.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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