When the Marlins signed former Baltimore Orioles pitcher Wei-Yin Chen to a five year contract worth $80 million in the 2016 offseason, Miami had lofty expectations for the Taiwanese lefty. Miami named Chen their opening day starter, and things didn’t go so well in his first start in a Marlins uniform.
He gave up five runs and nine hits in five innings against the Detroit Tigers. Chen didn’t ever pick up where he left off in 2015, as he struggled mightily for most of the 2016 season. For the season, Chen went 5-5 with a 4.96 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP. Chen was forced to miss time in July when he suffered a left elbow sprain, which sent him to the 15-day DL.
Chen never really had a successful month, but he was most effective in April. He compiled a season-low ERA of 4.26, while holding batters to a .250 batting average. His worst month was June, when he posted an ERA of 6.47. Chen seemed to succeed more when he pitched on the road, as he pitched to an ERA of 4.48 on the road compared to a 5.49 ERA while at home.
One of the few encouraging signs for Chen was that his K/9 increased, while his BB/9 decreased significantly. However, his HR/9 and his BABIP both increased from 2015. His FIP went from 4.16 to 4.50, while his GB% stayed the same from the year before. He allowed his opponents to bat .272 against him, which increased from .257.
Right now, FanGraphs projects that Chen will go 11-10 with a 3.81 ERA in 177 innings. With an already thin pitching staff, Miami is going to rely on Chen to pitch like he did in 2015. If he pitches like he’s projected to, then that would be solid, but maybe not what the Marlins will be looking for.
Miami doesn’t have a true ace, but Chen is the one pitcher on the Marlins staff that has pitched like an ace before. Miami won’t need Chen to go deep into games, they will just need him to pitch well enough so the bullpen can finish the deal. If Chen can produce like he did in 2015, then he will be highly effective for the Marlins in 2017.