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Countdown to Arizona Diamondbacks Opening Day: D-16, Andrew Chafin

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One of the left-handed relief contenders, can Chafin bounce back from his disappointing 2016?

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Arizona Diamondbacks Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

We asked you to rank the 40-man roster along with the 16 non-roster invitees to spring training, and every day between now and the eve of Opening Day, we’ll have a profile of one of those Diamondbacks.

D minus 16: Andrew Chafin

  • Date of birth: June 17, 1990
  • Ht/Wt: 6’2”, 225 lbs
  • Position: Pitcher
  • Status: 40-man roster
  • Bats/Throws: R/L
  • 2016 MLB numbers: 32 games, 22.2 IP, 6.75 ERA, 28:11 K:BB
  • SnakePit Rating: 5.55

How unlucky was Chafin last year? His ERA was 6.75. But his FIP - the fielding-independent figure based on K’s, BB’s and HR’s - was only 2.84. The resulting gap of 3.91 was the largest for any season in the majors over the past three years, among the 1,502 pitchers to have thrown twenty or more innings in a campaign. Nobody else even got past 3.60. In other words: he was very, very unlucky, and if he pitched the same way this year, there’d be good reason to expect the significantly better results. A BABIP of .375 confirms this, especially given a line-drive rate of 26%, exactly at league average - and the same as Chafin had in 2015, when his ERA was 2.76.

Maybe that’s what happens when you spend the season living in an RV, as shown in the video below. But he’s happy there, being a hunter - and he brings much of the same mentality to the mound: “Aim small, miss small. When I’m hunting, I’m shooting at one tiny, little speck on the side of the deer, so to speak. And when I’m pitching, I look at one lace in the middle of the mitt — that’s all I’m focused on, one little spot.” He’s also trying to keep fresh: “The biggest thing I’m working on is pacing myself, if you will. Like, not going out and throwing way too much on a daily basis and wearing myself down... I get the work in that I need to do, and then shut it down.”

If he can get back to the results he delivered in 2015, then this leftie will be a very valuable member of the D-backs bullpen in 2017. And it seems the team are not averse to the idea, as they pointedly did not sign any left-handed relievers this winter to 40-man roster deals. Jorge De La Rosa, a non-roster invitee, may be Chafin’s biggest rival for a southpaw bullpen spot. but so far, Chafin’s Cactus League performances have been better. Through Thursday, he had a 6:0 K:BB ratio over his 5.2 innings, with a couple of solo homers the only damage. He’s looking likely to be back on the Arizona roster for Opening Day next month.

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