Marlins pitcher Wei-Yin Chen is still working on consistency on the mound as he has struggled throughout the Grapefruit League this year.
It’s not a secret the lefty has had the most inconsistent camp of the any of the Marlins potential starters in the rotation. This has raised many eyebrows as to how the coaching staff will fit him into the rotation or will he become a long reliever out of the bullpen.
Some, including myself, have wondered why he is still on the team’s 25-man roster at times this spring. There have been some insiders who have spoken out loud about the team releasing him, eating his high-priced salary over the next two seasons.
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It’s one of the questions no one has an answer for – yet.
"“Maybe I need to change a little bit about my pitch selection,” said Chen via Bill Whitehead of MLB.com. “I used a lot of [my] fastball and slider. I did fall behind a little bit and did miss my spots some. One crucial thing after the [first] home run was I hit a batter. That really came back and hurt me.“The things I need are gradually coming back to me … I feel [like] I’m about 80 percent right now.”"
The 80-percent isn’t what the team needs right now as they lost for the first time in 12 games. Chen’s ineffectiveness on the mound, coupled with some exciting pitching from Trevor Richards, Pablo Lopez, and Caleb Smith makes a decision on the pitching staff that much more difficult for manager Don Mattingly.
The chances of the team using a six-man rotation become greater as Chen continues to lose his battle with rhythm. He was a lights-out pitcher at home last season and a dismal starter on the road. He has also spent more time on the disabled list than he has in the Marlins rotation since signing a free agent contract in 2016.
Despite showing signs of another poor outing on Thursday, Mattingly said he sees signs of improvement in his veteran.
"“He was a little bit behind in the count,” he said. “He just didn’t locate on the home runs. He started using his breaking ball more later in the game to kind of slow them down a little bit. That’s a key for him.”"
Should Chen move to the bullpen, it could be a challenge for him as well. In 174 career games, he has come out as a reliever only four times.