Numbers-driven projection systems loved Wei-Yin Chen as he was moving from hitter friendly Camden Yards in the AL East to the cavernous Marlins Park in the tamer NL East. Unfortunately, Chen had issues with the long ball before being sidelined a little after the All-Star break with a sprained throwing elbow. In terms of skills, Chen's strikeout and walk rates both improved a tick, just not nearly as much as expected moving to the favorable pitching environment. Chen saw his HR/9 spike to 1.6 despite inducing a career-high number of grounders. The increased homers and some misfortune in terms of left on base percentage ballooned Chen's ERA to a career-worst 4.96, though it should be noted his 4.18 xFIP was right in line with his tenure in Baltimore. The parts are still in place for the southpaw to have a sneaky good season at a minimal cost, especially if you can focus on his home starts. Just don't expect more than 170, maybe 180, innings.
Chen allowed two runs on three hits and struck out six over five innings in Tuesday's Grapefruit League game against the Astros. Both runs scored on solo shots by Yuli Gurriel and prospect Derek Fisher. In fact, all four runs Chen has given up this spring have come on solo blasts, leaving him with a solid 3.27 ERA but an unsightly 3.3 HR/9 through 11 innings. His 10:1 K:BB is strong, though, and should be considered a better sign of where the left-hander stands in his preparation for Opening Day.
Chen allowed two runs on four hits and a walk over three innings while striking out three in Friday's Grapefruit League game against the Twins. The runs scored on solo home runs by J.R. Murphy and Byungho Park, not the best sign for a pitcher who allowed a career-worst 1.61 HR/9 in 2016. Chen struggled in his first season with Miami, and while the club is expecting him to rebound this year, any improvement in his stat line will have to begin with finding a way to keep the ball in the yard.
Chen allowed one hit and struck out one in a scoreless inning of work during Tuesday's Grapefruit League game against the Mets. A double play quickly erased Jose Reyes' infield single, and Chen needed just nine pitches to complete his day. The 31-year-old is coming off his worst season in MLB, but a lot of the damage came later in his starts -- he had a 7.64 ERA after the fifth inning in 2016. The Marlins have a deeper bullpen this year and manager Don Mattingly has indicated that he won't hesitate to give his starters quick hooks if they get into trouble, so Chen's ratios should improve if he's only required to go through the opposing batting order twice at most, although that won't help his chances of racking up wins.
Chen (5-5) gave up two earned runs on six hits and a walk over five innings in Saturday's 2-1 loss to the Nationals. He struck out five. The veteran yielded little to the Nationals but got even less in the way of run support. Chen surrendered only an RBI single to Bryce Harper in the first and a 395-foot solo shot by Trea Turner in the third while firing 54 of 80 pitches for strikes. The 31-year-old did manage to coax his ERA back under 5.00 with the effort, but wraps up his first Marlins campaign with the lowest win total and highest ERA (4.96) of his five major league seasons while pitching a career-low 123.1 innings due to injury.
The Marlins activated Chen (elbow) from the disabled list Monday, Andre Fernandez of the Miami Herald reports. Chen is ready to get back on the mound after missing nearly two months with his elbow injury. He will jump right back into the Marlins' rotation and take the ball Monday night versus the Nationals, a team he owns a 4.80 ERA against over five career matchups.