Rockies-Cubs Preview

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.