Nobody is satisfied with how Wei-Yin Chen’s Marlins contract played out (not even Chen himself). Miami committed to Chen for five guaranteed years; he missed time with injuries during each of the first three, then spent the fourth exiled to an irrelevant mop-up role. On Wednesday, he was literally exiled from the 40-man roster. The veteran left-hander is on the verge of being released despite the $22 million still owed to him.
But there were bright spots! For a Marlins team that often had to lean on mediocre starting pitching from 2016-2018, Chen was nearly as effective as his rotation mates. When healthy, he showed glimpses of being the steady strike-thrower Scott Boras marketed him to be.
Sorting all of Chen’s Fish outings by Game Score (51 is the National League average), I have identified the seven best. Perhaps he can tap into this potential more consistently by going to a new environment with much lower expectations.
6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K on 77 pitches (69 Game Score)
Chen has faced Tampa Bay more than any other opponent in his career, holding them to a 3.53 earned run average across 130 innings pitched (23 total appearances).
5.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K on 91 pitches (69 Game Score)
The Marlins split their season series with the Cardinals in 2018, 3-3. Two of those Miami wins were started by Chen.
7.0 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 1 HR on 87 pitches (71 Game Score)
This was Chen at his most efficient, throwing nearly three-quarters of his pitches for strikes. Then again, it was a favorable matchup for him—hardly any impact bats in the Mets lineup for that game outside of Yoenis Céspedes.
7.1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 1 HR on 94 pitches (72 Game Score)
Chen held Bryce Harper to an 0-for-3 night with three strikeouts and carried a shutout into the eighth inning! However, Wilmer Difo sent him to the showers with a game-tying solo shot, then Brad Ziegler blew the game in the next frame.
7.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 2 K on 100 pitches (77 Game Score)
One of the rare occasions where Chen was paired with a catcher other than J.T. Realmuto. In Seattle, A.J. Ellis got his battery mate to work consistently on the bottom half of the strike zone. Kyle Barraclough came two outs away from finishing off the combined no-hitter.
The Taiwanese lefty made only two more starts after this before heading to the disabled list with arm fatigue. That would ultimately lead to a four-month absence.
8.0 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K on 107 pitches (79 Game Score)
Zero success for that right-handed-heavy Blue Jays lineup. Per Statcast, they mustered only two hard-hit balls while Chen was on the mound.
7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K on 96 pitches (79 Game Score)
Chen’s final home start at Marlins Park was arguably his very best. The five strikeouts via slider represents the second-highest total of his major league career.
All highlights courtesy of Baseball Theater.