With Opening Day just over three weeks away, we’ll take a look at a member of the 2015 Orioles every day as they try to defend their American League East title this season.
LHP Wei-Yin Chen
Opening Day age: 29
Contract status: Becomes a free agent after the 2015 season
Minor-league options remaining: Three
2014 stats: 16-6, 3.54 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 6.6 K/IP, 23 HR, 185 2/3 innings
Why to be impressed: The Taiwanese lefty has been the model of consistency since arriving in Baltimore in 2012 and turned in his finest season yet in 2014 with a career-best ERA and WHIP and ranked 11th in the American League with a 3.89 strikeout to walk ratio. He is the only Baltimore starter to make at least 23 starts in each of the last three seasons.
Why to be concerned: Though the strikeout has never been a major part of his makeup, Chen’s strikeout rate per nine innings pitched has dipped gradually from 7.2 in 2012 to 6.6 last season. Averaging just under six innings per start in each of the last two years, Chen doesn’t pitch as deep into games as you’d like from an otherwise consistent starter taking the hill every five days.
2015 outlook: Chen is working on a new grip for his changeup as he prepares for his final season before hitting the free-agent market next winter. He often runs out of gas quickly when trying to retire hitters the third time through the order, but his excellent command and consistency make him a good bet to post an ERA of 3.80 or better and to continue to be a mainstay in the starting rotation.