Ending up in the Houston bullpen has been an odd journey for Gustavo Chacin. Chacin (pronounced SHA-Seen) was born in Venezuela in 1980 and signed as a non-draftee free agent with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2000. As a starter, the lefty progressed through the Jays minor league system and seemed on his way to a productive major league career as a middle of the rotation starter. Chacin went 13-9 with a 3.72 ERA and 1.39 WHIP over 203 innings as a rookie in 2004. He was named Rookie of the Month twice and finished fifth in Rookie of the Year voting. However, Chacin’s stock would fall much more quickly than it rose. The next two seasons Chacin would make 22 total starts and post an ERA over 5. Through all of this, he remained a fan favorite.
While in Toronto, a local radio station created a reocurring joke about how Gustavo Chacin’s name sounded like the name of a cologne. On June 27, 2006 the Blue Jays adopted this joke and handed the first 10,000 fans to their game with the Washington Nationals a sample of ‘Chacin Cologne’. Click here to hear a Chacin Cologne advertisement. Despite his popularity with Blue Jays fans, Chacin was released in 2008 and signed with the Washington Nationals later that year. They must have really liked the cologne! Chacin would fail to make it out of the Nationals minor league system and spent 2009 in similar futility in the Phillies farm system before signing with Houston in 2010.
Gustavo Chacin has pitched much better this year than his ERA shows. In 29 innings Chacin has 25 strikeouts and 11 walks. His BB/9, SO/9, BB/SO are all ahead of his career numbers. So despite a 5.52 ERA, the Cologne man has been a decent long-reliever for Houston and even with Melancon due in the bullpen in 2011, there is a good chance we’ll see one of the coolest names in baseball once again on Houston’s roster.