After laboring through five innings in Philadelphia last Wednesday, Wei-Yin Chen threw six innings of two-run ball against Tampa Bay last night, although he would not factor into the decision.
Chen worked around four walks, his highest total of the season thus far, and limited the damage to a two-run double in the fourth by Tim Beckham. He also found his strikeout pitch, racking-up seven whiffs, which was also a season high.
After back-to-back tough series for Miami, they needed a good outing by their starter, and Chen was able to make up for his poor last outing, even though Marlins hitters did little to support him, as they only managed two hits before he made way for Brad Ziegler.
As a result, Chen’s up-and-down season continues. The left-hander has struggled to find consistency, alternating between good and (really) bad starts over his first five appearances for the Marlins. This has been the story for all of Miami’s starters in 2017, making it clear that this is an ace-less staff.
With the bullpen performing fairly well overall at this point of the season, though, Miami does not need spectacular starts from the rotation, so they will happily take more performances like the one Chen produced last night.
However, to go from ‘good’ to ‘great’, Miami really needs a leader to emerge from their starting five. As it stands, no starter has an ERA below 4.00, which is worse than most of the optimistic Marlins supporters will have been hoping for at the start of the season.
Manager Don Mattingly is doing the best with what he has to work with, but there is currently not much room to maneuver. While José Urena has had a solid starting to the season by posting a 2.92 ERA over 12.1 innings, he has consistently underwhelmed when given starting duties with Miami, and there is no other feasible alternative on the big league roster.
One could argue Jarlin García’s case considering he was a starter in the minor leagues, but rookies are not always the best place to find consistency, and that is what Miami is most in need of. Plus, he has been a good contributor in the bullpen since his emergency call-up after the 16-inning marathon against the Mets.
In short, Wei-Yin Chen once again showed what he is capable last night. If he can now string a few of those starts together and lead the rotation by example, then the Marlins will be in good shape as the season continues to unfold.