Wei-Yin Chen might pitch for the Miami Marlins this year

SEATTLE, WA - APRIL 18: Starting pitcher Wei-Yin Chen
SEATTLE, WA - APRIL 18: Starting pitcher Wei-Yin Chen /

The Miami Marlins have been unable to keep Wei-Yin Chen injury-free during his time with the club. They aren’t ruling out a return to the rotation this season.

When the Miami Marlins came to terms with Wei-Yin Chen on a lucrative five year, $80 million contract, the team looked much different. They had a bonafide ace in Jose Fernandez on staff, and Chen was expected to complete a formidable 1-2 punch.

That never materialized. Chen managed to stay mostly free of injury during his four years in Baltimore, making over 30 starts in three of those years. In his first season with Miami, he battled injury and made a career low 22 starts. This season, that number is down to five.

Yet the Miami Marlins remain hopeful that the Kaohsiung City lefty will be able to return this year.

Chen has had recurring trouble with his pitching elbow. MRI’s and consultations with specialists have concluded that surgery is not needed. The Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson spoke with General Manager Michael Hill, who said it’s just a matter of “building him up, throwing bullpens,”.

That has been the approach the Miami Marlins have taken with Chen all along. He made his last start on May 1st, pitching six strong innings and limiting the Tampa Bay Rays to two runs in a losing effort. There appeared to be no sign of injury or arm fatigue during that start.

Chen went on the disabled list shortly after that start, with no timetable for his return at any point.

When he’s been on the mound, he’s show flashes of the dominance that justified his lucrative contract. Chen has gone fewer than five innings in only one start. In five starts, Chen has limited opponents to two runs or fewer on three occasions.

The future for Chen and the Miami Marlins

While the Miami Marlins hope that Chen will be able to return to the rotation this season, try not to hold your breath. Barring a miracle, playoff hopes for the Marlins are mostly wrapped up. Unless the lefty takes a quantum leap with the health of his elbow, it makes little sense to push a return this year.

Allowing him to rest and strengthen for an entire offseason is a far more prudent way to go. The Miami Marlins want to gear up for 2018, and they’ll need a healthy Chen to do it.

At the very least, they need Chen to prove he is healthy enough to contribute to another team. If the Taiwanese pitcher can prove that he’s back to 100 percent health, the Miami Marlins might be able to find a team to deal him to at next years deadline.

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Is a return for Wei-Yin Chen in the works? General Manager Michael Hill isn’t ruling it out. But thinking logically, it wouldn’t make much sense to push a pitcher struggling with elbow issues in a lost season. Better to develop a strengthening program and gear up for 2018.

Chen has shown he’s an above-average arm when he’s on the mound. Now the Miami Marlins just need to get him there with regularity.