Struggling Chacin's rotation spot in jeopardy

Angels righty walks four, with no strikeouts in loss to A's

Struggling Chacin's rotation spot in jeopardy

ANAHEIM -- When he was acquired on May 11 in a trade with the Atlanta Braves, Angels right-hander Jhoulys Chacin provided a much-needed source of depth.

Now, after another poor performance and a 7-3 loss to Oakland on Saturday, that same depth could soon lead to the end of Chacin's time in the starting rotation.

Chacin was wild, walking the first batter of the game on five pitches and giving up a two-run homer on a fastball over the heart of the plate to Danny Valencia two batters later, opening an early 2-0 lead for the A's. Command evaded Chacin all night, as he walked four batters and allowed 10 total baserunners before being pulled with two outs in the fifth inning.

"You absolutely cannot go out there and give 10 baserunners in four-plus innings and think you're going to have a chance to win," manager Mike Scioscia said of Chacin's performance.

Even when Chacin found the strike zone, he didn't miss bats. He was unable to strike out a single batter for the first time since Sept. 20, 2013, frequently finding himself saved by loud outs and balls hit right at his defense.

"If you don't throw strikes, you can't really miss any bats," Chacin said. "If you're walking four, five guys in a game, you can't really get any strikeouts. That's not really my game anyways. I have to throw strikes, get ground balls and throw a lot of innings. I haven't done that the last four or five starts."

While Chacin lasted longer than he did in his last outing, when he threw two innings against the Astros, the same struggles were apparent with his command. He nibbled at the corners, missing early in counts and often finding himself trying to fight out of trouble.

"[Jhoulys has] got a history of getting a little bit erratic, but these last two starts we've seen the worst of it," Scioscia said. "Too many missed counts, too many walks. Jhoulys knows this."

Scioscia confirmed that Chacin will make his next start Friday in Boston, but what lies beyond is uncertain. Right-hander Nick Tropeano, who had the lowest ERA of anyone in the starting rotation, was optioned to Triple-A when activated from the DL on Friday. He won't be eligible to return to the Majors for 10 days after being optioned unless there's an injury, but could take a spot in the rotation if need be after that point.

That leaves six potential starters -- Chacin, Tropeano, Hector Santiago, Matt Shoemaker, Tim Lincecum and Jered Weaver -- competing for five spots. None of the six have really stood out, but it appears that Chacin could be the odd man out.

The rotation, Scioscia said, is the key to any possible turnaround for the Angels season now that they sit in last place in the American League West and losers of six in a row.

"We didn't do a whole lot on the mound to get it on our terms, so you're playing catch up," Scioscia said. "That's what we've been doing this whole series. Our first order of business is to get our rotation where it needs to be to give ourselves chances to control a game early."

Fabian Ardaya is a reporter for MLB.com based in Anaheim. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.