Chen gave up a hit and a walk over two scoreless innings of relief while striking out one in Thursday's loss to the Cubs. While the southpaw's 9.69 ERA and 2.08 WHIP aren't going to attract much trade interest, Chen is showing signs of growing comfortable in a relief role, tossing six scoreless innings over his last four appearances with a 5:1 K:BB. The Marlins would love to shed his contract, but he'll need a longer run of success in long relief before that's got a chance of happening.
Chen was charged with 10 runs on seven hits -- including four home runs -- and two walks over two innings in Tuesday's loss to the Reds. He struck out three. The veteran portsider threw 66 pitches (42 strikes) and while there's no silver lining here for his individual performance, Chen at least saved the Marlins' bullpen from being depleted in a 14-0 rout. He now has a nearly incomprehensible 24.75 ERA and has walked five batters in four innings as he attempts to transition to a relief role.
Chen didn't record an out, giving up a hit and a walk, to begin the ninth inning of Sunday's win over the Rockies. It's interesting that Don Mattingly brought Chen in rather than Adam Conley to face two left-handed batters (Charlie Blackmon and David Dahl) in a save situation, but the veteran hurler did little to encourage the Marlins manager to repeat the experiment. Chen could need some time to adjust to relief work -- only four of his previous 174 MLB appearances came out of the bullpen -- but given his hefty contract, the club has plenty of incentive to find a role for him that might give him some trade value.
Manager Don Mattlingly announced Sunday that Chen will pitch out of the bullpen to start the season, Andre Fernandez of The Athletic reports. The news isn't overly surprising as there's been indications throughout spring that Chen could be slated for some type of bullpen role. The team has yet to announce its official plans for the starting rotation, so the rest of that picture remains a bit murky.
Chen could occasionally be deployed out of the bullpen this season even if he breaks camp with a spot in Miami's rotation, Joe Frisaro of MLB.com reports. The Marlins have yet to formally outline their rotation plans, but Frisaro suggests the club could be leaning toward carrying seven starters into Opening Day and using two of them as relief/spot-start options. With 12 runs allowed over 11.1 innings this spring, Chen hasn't helped his case for solidifying a permanent rotation spot, so he may be earmarked for one of the swing roles that Frisaro envisions. After demoting Jarlin Garcia and Brian Moran to their minor-league camp Tuesday, the Marlins are lacking in other lefty bullpen arms besides Adam Conley, which offers further incentive for the team to keep another southpaw in Chen on hand in relief, at least occasionally.