Padres’ Chacin returns to Coors Field, faces Rockies (Sep 17, 2017)

DENVER — The opportunity Jhoulys Chacin has been waiting for comes Sunday when he makes his 30th start of the season as the San Diego Padres play their final game this year at Coors Field.

There will not be any hint of revenge for Chacin (12-10, 4.06 ERA) when he faces the Colorado Rockies but plenty of nostalgia and sentiment when he returns to the Coors Field mound for the first time in more than three years.

Jon Gray (8-4, 3.95), who has been Colorado’s best starter, will oppose Chacin and seek to continue his run of success for the Rockies and help them sweep the three-game series.

Chacin, 29, began his career in the Rockies’ organization in 2006 and made his major league debut with Colorado on July 25, 2009. He pitched for them through 2014, a season when a shoulder injury limited him to 11 starts. The 10th was at Coors Field on June 23, 2014, the last time he pitched there.

“I wanted to start here before the season ends,” Chacin said. “I haven’t pitched here since ’14. I want to come back here. That’s where I grew up. Finally being healthy, (I want to) pitch back here again.”

Chacin has pitched in 192 major league games (164 starts). He has worn a Rockies uniform in 124 of those games and made 109 starts for Colorado.

Chacin went 38-48 with the Rockies, albeit with a decent 3.78 ERA. He is 23-23 with a 4.21 ERA in 68 games (61 starts) at Coors Field.

“People say it’s never a bad thing to miss a start in Colorado, but it’s just different for me,” Chacin said. “It’s not about facing the Rockies. It’s about being here again at Coors Field. I always wanted to come back here and pitch again. That’s where I grew up. I got here when I was 21.”

The Padres are 15-14 in starts by Chacin, whom they signed for one year at $1.75 million and who has been a very good addition. He faced the Rockies once this year at San Diego on June 3. He gave up four runs (three earned) in six innings and took the loss in the Padres’ 10-1 defeat.

Chacin has pitched 164 innings, which is second on the Padres and his highest total in the majors since he threw a career-high 197 1/3 innings with the Rockies in 2013, the year before he hurt his shoulder. Chacin leads the Padres in wins.

“One thing that I wanted was just to be healthy all year,” Chacin said. “So far, I’ve been able to make all my starts. I have’t been having a problem with my arm. My velocity is fine, just trying to finish the season strong.”

The Rockies are 11-6 in starts by Gray, who is 3-2 with a 2.76 ERA in eight starts against the Padres, including one this year. On July 19 at Coors Field, he gave up four runs in six innings but pitched with a comfortable early lead and won as the Rockies pounded the Padres 18-4.

Gray has allowed three or fewer runs in 10 straight starts. During that stretch, Gray is 5-3 with a 2.79 ERA with 60 strikouts and 14 walks in 61 1/3 innings. Gray, who missed 2 1/2 months this season with a stress fracture in his left foot, is 4-1 with a 3.34 ERA in six starts this season at Coors Field.

“Most notably lately, Jon has pitched really well,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “I think finally he’s in that groove that Jon can get into that took him a while to get to. Broken foot, some rehab starts, wore a boot for a long time. But he’s very capable of leading a staff.

“I think with Jon it’s going to take a little bit of time to become that guy that’s really thought of around the league as an upper echelon pitcher, but he’s got the capability.”