DENVER -- Tyler Chatwood held the Padres to one run over 5 2/3 innings in the Rockies' 6-1 victory over the Padres at Coors Field on Friday night. In his three starts since returning to Colorado's starting rotation, Chatwood has posted a 0.66 ERA (one run in 13 2/3 innings).
This comes on the heels of an erratic 20-start stretch that saw Chatwood demoted to the bullpen on Aug. 1. During that time, the righty had 11 starts in which he gave up four or more runs but also seven starts in which he allowed two runs or fewer.
The primary factor behind Chatwood's newfound consistency? His left foot.
Between his start against the Giants at Coors Field on Sept. 5 and his start against the Dodgers in Los Angeles on Sunday, Chatwood identified a problem in his delivery.
"My two-seam fastball's always been my pitch, and I've always been able to get it down and away to a lefty, and for most of the year, it's been running off the plate; it's been flat," Chatwood said. "And it was just because I was fighting myself and not being able to get over my front side, firing across my body."
Chatwood had been planting his lead foot during his delivery toward the third-base side of the mound, rather than square in line toward the plate. The result was an inability to locate his fastball, falling behind in counts, and opponents racking up walks and run-scoring hits.
Entering September, Chatwood had issued three or more walks in 14 of his 21 starts, including eight against the Dodgers on June 24 alone. In three starts since rejoining the rotation, Chatwood has reduced his walk total from three in three innings on Sept. 5, to two in five innings on Sunday, to one in 5 2/3 frames against the Padres Friday night.
"Right now, I feel like I'm staying through everything, and I have a good angle and good depth on the ball," Chatwood said. "I think I'm getting weak contact on ground balls, and [the two-seamer] is staying on the plate more, so it's nice."
By not fighting himself in his delivery, Chatwood has also added significant velocity to the two-seam fastball. Against the Giants and Dodgers, the two-seamer velocity was up from an average of 94.3 mph before Sept. 5 to 94.9 mph since.
On Friday, Chatwood's two-seamer averaged 94.2 mph, and he hit a maximum velocity of 96.1.
Chatwood has had struggles over the past two seasons while pitching at Coors Field, but in 2013 -- his first season as a member of the Rockies, before his '14 campaign was cut short for Tommy John surgery -- he turned in a 3.50 ERA in the high altitude of Denver.
Opponents' weighted on-base average was an above-average .335, and Chatwood did have a 1.51 WHIP, but much like it's been for him in one relief appearance and three starts this month, he's lived dangerously with traffic on the bases, but escaped trouble when he's been at his best. In 14 1/3 September innings, 20 runners have reached base against Chatwood, with only one run scoring -- on Wil Myers' homer Friday night.
"I thought what was critical, that even though the ball-strike ratio wasn't that great, when he needed to throw a strike, he did," manager Bud Black said. "When he needed to get an out, like the key double plays in the first two innings, he got them. And that's pitching. So that was really good to see."
With the Rockies battling for their first postseason berth in eight years, and a rotation that has been in flux much of the year due to injuries and varying performances from young hurlers, Chatwood hopes to pitch his way into a starting role under the bright lights of October.
"I've always known I've been able to [have success]," Chatwood said. "I was able to make this adjustment, and I feel good going forward."
Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.