Take his first-inning battle with Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain, in which he fell behind in the count, 3-1. Chacin dropped a looping breaking ball onto the outside corner at the knees for a called strike two. Then, after a couple of foul balls, he punctuated the at-bat with a tight, late-breaking slide piece. Cain didn't stand much of a chance.
"I'll throw one slider slower, knowing I can throw that more for a strike," Chacin said. "But then when I've got two strikes, I can come back with a hard one."
Chacin was excellent again at Petco Park on Friday night, where he's posted a 1.58 ERA in six starts this season. Once again, his success was largely due to his mastery of the slider, which he threw in just about any count.
Chacin allowed two runs on three hits over seven innings -- an impressive line, no doubt, but one that might not do him justice. He made one true mistake pitch on the night, a fifth-inning sinker that Salvador Perez deposited in the left-field seats for a two-run homer. Otherwise, Chacin allowed a pair of seeing-eye singles and little else, keeping the Royals off-balance until he was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the seventh.
"He located his slider well," said Padres manager Andy Green. "He pitched the outer portion of the plate with it, came in on some guys. ... For the most part, his command was better today. Still probably sprayed some fastballs every now and again. But he threw the ball well."
On the season, Chacin has recorded 61 swings-and-misses against his slider, tying him for seventh in the Majors. (He's behind perennial Cy Young contenders like Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer, Zack Greinke and Chris Archer.)
After the Royals went 0-for-9 in at-bats that finished with a slider, opponents are now hitting .162 against the pitch this season. Chacin has clearly developed a rhythm with it.
Next up: Figuring out how to mitigate his confounding home-road splits. Chacin owns a 10.27 ERA away from Petco Park this year.
"I don't want to think about, but I need to have the same mindset when I pitch away," Chacin said. "It had never been a problem for me when I pitch away. This year, it's been crazy how the home-away splits are. I have a lot of season left, so I know I'm going to make adjustments and do better on the road."