Is Miami Marlins starter Wei-Yin Chen, because of a lack of consistency on the mound, destined to become part of the team’s bullpen for the 2019 season?
Because of a lack of consistency on the mound and young arms that are growing into solid starters, will the Miami Marlins move Wei-Yin Chen to the bullpen for the 2019 season? Does this mean the Marlins have their rotation in place and the upcoming season is a sign of the future?
When asked about Chen’s situation and his place with the team in a recent “Inbox” feature on MLB.com, Joe Frisaro wrote the contract offered to him by the Marlins from the old ownership group is a reason for why he has handcuffed the organization a bit.
"“Without question, Chen’s contract makes it extremely difficult to find a trade match, but that doesn’t mean the left-hander can’t have value to the Marlins in 2019, whether that’s in the rotation or in relief,” he explained."
Given the inconsistency on the mound where he could not win games on the road, but was a lights-out pitcher at home last season is still a concern for the coaching staff. Another is a histiry of injuries that have plagued him since he signed with the team in 2016.
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"“Last Saturday, Chen threw four shutout innings of one-hit ball in relief against the Nationals. For those saying Miami should cut ties, that’s not realistic when Chen is making $20 million in 2019 and $22 million in ’20, along with a vesting option of $16 million for ’21,” Frisaro added."
Also add the fact that Chen is one of only a few lefties on the staff and Miami has some decisions to make. A case can be made that Chen moving to long relief would given manager Don Mattingly a veteran who could come in and help slow the momentum of the opponent or give the staff a breather because he can work well into games.
Taking Chen out of the rotation opens the door for Caleb Smith or Trevor Richards to become the fifth starter. At some point, the team may also look to trade veteran Dan Straily, which would give Mattingly an even younger staff for the future.
A future that is starting to look brighter by the day.
"“Critics of Chen also have to keep in mind that the Marlins used 13 different starting pitchers last year,” writes Frisaro. “Over the course of the season, you need pitching depth — you can’t just bank on five or six candidates, with most of them being prospects or starters with little MLB experience.”"
Wei-Yin Chen did show that when he was on the mound, he gave the team what it needed – an inning’s eater who could give the bullpen a rest in 2018. He made 26 starts and threw 133 1/3 innings last year, and was second on the team to Jose Urena in both categories.