The Cubs tweeted out the original photo on Thursday: Reliver Andrew Chafin mid-stride, pulling his sunglasses down his nose, just above his illustrious mustache.
“Amazing picture, isn’t it?” Cubs manager David Ross said Sunday. “He told me the other day his followers have tripled.”
A few factors converged to make the left-hander a sudden fan favorite. First came his performance on the mound.
Last season, Chafin joined the Cubs at the trade deadline, recovered from a finger injury, and recorded a 3.00 ERA in four appearances in relative ambiguity.
Then, in 3 2/3 innings this year, he’s allowed just two hits and struck out eight. At one point, he retired eight straight batters. Entering play Sunday, his ERA remained an immaculate 0.00.
“He attacks the strike zone, it's an aggressive approach, and his goal when he comes in the game is not to strike everybody out,” Cubs pitching coach Tommy Hottovy said. “His goal is to have like 12 pitches or less. And he jokes around about that. He's like, ‘If I throw more than 12 pitches, it's a bad day for me.’”
Chafin’s mustache had already drawn attention in his first few outings of the year. And then the Cubs put out The Photo.
Next came the edits. The most widespread replaces the background with an explosion. Chafin takes on the role of the action hero, ice water running through his veins as he walks away from the scene in slow motion.
Hottovy likened him to Chuck Norris.
“That, in a one-shot frame,” Ross said, laughing, “kind of does sum up who Andrew Chafin is.”