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Wei-yen Chen


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#1 BSLChrisStoner

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 09:06 AM

One of the more interesting moves the Baltimore Orioles made this Winter, was the addition of Taiwanese lefty Chen Wei-yen.

The 26 year old Chen is known as a power arm, whose velocity dipped in ’11, as he dealt with a leg injury. In ’11, Chen was 8-10, with a 2.68 era. In his 164.2 ip, he allowed 138 hits, 9 homers, 31 bb’s, with 94 k’s.

For his career in the Japanese Central League, Chen was 36-30, with a 2.48 era. In 631.1 innings, he allowed 518 hits, 47 hr’s, 153 bb’s, with 500 k’s.

During this Winter, we asked numerous analysts for their thoughts on Chen. Here are some of their responses:

Jim Callis, Baseball America: “…It’s just so hard to project how foreign major leaguers will translate to MLB. The AL East is an unforgiving division, and Chen will have to regain his velocity to survive.”


Matthew Pouliot, NBC Sports / Hardball Talk: “I gave Chen a 4.26 ERA in 171 innings and Wada a 4.42 ERA in 183 1/3 IP. I do feel a bit more secure with the Wada projection, considering that I’ve seen more of his video and he doesn’t come with Chen’s health questions. Chen would seem to have the greater upside of the two, but that much reported velocity drop is definitely a cause for concern. It’s a projection that’s likely to change some depending on how he performs this spring. If he’s back throwing in the low-90s this spring, he could prove to be a steal for the Orioles.”

When it appeared that Wada would join Chen in the rotation, we asked analysts if they believe the duo could combine for 350 innings at a 4.50 era.

Brandon Warne, FanGraphs: “The ERA might — and that’s a very uneasy might — be realistic, but that’s just too many innings. That would be 175 innings apiece, which seems unlikely for two hurlers who haven’t seen an inning in the big leagues yet. Very few debuting big leaguers’ — only Jeremy Hellickson comes to mind from 2011 — throw that sort of workload. My best guess would be something more like 300ish innings at a 5.00 ERA. I think Duquette and the O’s would have to be pleased with that, too.”

Satchel Price, SB Nation: “I think that expecting a 4.50 ERA over 350 innings from those two guys would be setting pretty high hopes. There aren’t many pitchers that can reasonably be expected to pitch 175+ innings annually, and asking two guys with zero MLB experience to do so seems like a lot.”

Marc Normandin, SB Nation: “An ERA of 4.50 isn’t that high of a bar to set – the league-average ERA in 2011 was 3.94. I can see them being below-average arms at the back of the rotation, but more stable than some of the others the Orioles have tried out for the same role in their recent history. Either way, though, the O’s didn’t invest a whole lot of money into the duo and aren’t exactly stocked with alternatives, so as long as these two are usable arms, the O’s have done well in this situation.”

Stan McNeal, Sporting News: “Though I know little about either, I think 175 innings and a 4.50 ERA from either would earn Dan Duquette votes for executive of the year honors. These guys will be paid less than $5 million each this year. A free agent starter expected to put up a 4.50 ERA in the A.L. commands upwards of $10 million. I think getting 60 starts combined from the two would be a success.”

Prior to his signing with Baltimore, Don Olsen from Orioles Nation provided a Scouting Report on Chen (http://orioles-natio...couting-report/):

“Chen has a game that has slowly built on command locating pitches. He shows the ability to throw a curveball, splitter/forkball, change up, and as fastball that will likely sit in the 89-90 mph range in the Major Leagues…..His fastball showed some movement when I saw him in 2009… at its best it has late action that is tough to square up on. He shows pitchability and works the entire plate, and both sides equally against right handed and left handed batting… Chen does a poor job hiding the ball in his delivery and it might pose a problem against quality hitting that can shit on the off-speed stuff, and still catch up to his offerings. He needs his pitches to move constantly because his stuff cannot live with straight as an arrow life. I witnessed a lot of of the ball riding high in the zone a few years back and he cannot live in that fashion and have success in an AL park, even though recent reports indicate he is working lower in the zone on a constant basis….He is left handed, can throw multiple pitches, his arm speed can last deep into outings, and his off speed pitches sit enough off the fastball that he should profile a No.4/No. 5 type arm. Watching him pitch, he reminds me of a young Jimmy Key, although maybe tick below with his fastball velocity.”

Dan Moroz from Camden Crazies had an article (http://www.camdencra... ... -chen.html) in January projecting Chen. Moroz commented, “It’s a nice low-risk, medium reward move, and a much preferred alternative to giving multiple years to, say, Joe Saunders (who is probably a surer bet for a 4.50 FIP but doesn’t have the potential up-side).”

Ultimately Moroz projected the following stat line for Chen:
172.1 innings, 23 homers, 50 bb’s, 118 k’s, 4.42 FIP

I’m looking forward to seeing Chen’s debut. Clearly Chen, who turns 27 in July, has a lot more professional experience than a traditional MLB Rookie, but he will still be beginning a new chapter here. There are plenty of adjustments he will be facing (New Country, culture, increased travel, better talent, less domes, etc.), but his pure stuff should still be apparent right away. The O’s chances of exceeding expectations greatly increase if you become confident in Chen being a reliable starter.
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#2 JeffLong

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 09:55 AM

I'm really exciting to see Chen pitch tonight. Unfortunately I have a meeting at 9 PM so I won't be able to watch the whole game, but I'd like to see him start out well.

I think everyone will be pleasantly surprised by his stuff (not necessarily performance - it is the Yankees after all).
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#3 Coker

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 12:03 PM

Really looking forward to seeing him pitch. I barely caught the ST game on MLB.TV when he was pitching, so tonight's really my first look.

Gonna have to head down to the bar to watch the game.

#4 LanceRinker

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 12:49 PM

I'm also really looking forward to seeing what Chen can do tonight. He has one hell of an assignment for his first major league start though - the New York Yankees.

If he gives us 6 innings and doesn't give up any more than 3 ER's than I think we should consider that a successful first outing. Yu Darvish didn't exactly have a great first start with the Rangers last night and he's the "greatest pitcher in the galaxy" supposedly..

#5 Coker

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 12:54 PM

I didn't follow ST too much, but was Chen's velocity back up to pre-'11 levels?

I think that's one of the big things to look at tonight. FB velocity and his command.

#6 JeffLong

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 04:35 PM

I didn't follow ST too much, but was Chen's velocity back up to pre-'11 levels?

I think that's one of the big things to look at tonight. FB velocity and his command.


From what I saw he sat mid 90s, with above average control
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#7 BSLChrisStoner

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 04:37 PM

From what I saw he sat mid 90s, with above average control


Sat in the mid-90s? I think he may touch that high, but I believe he was regularly around 91.

#8 JeffLong

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 04:47 PM

Sat in the mid-90s? I think he may touch that high, but I believe he was regularly around 91.



That was lazy wording. He sat 91 - 93, touched 95.
Thanks for pointing it out haha
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#9 LanceRinker

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 05:28 PM

While Chen's velocity will be important to maintain around 91-92 if he expects to have a chance this season, especially against the AL East, I think it's slightly more important for him to locate his pitches consistently instead. He has enough life/movement on the ball to get away with sitting around 89-90 like Koji did and be successful.

He'd definitely have to stay healthy though.

#10 SportsGuy

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 09:01 PM

Should be a solid pitcher for us. Whether he can stay a starter or not is tbd but he has the command, control and stuff to at least be a very good reliever. His stuff is good but not overwhelming, so I don't see more than a 3/4 starter but still, he looks to be a solid pitcher who will help us.

#11 BSLChrisStoner

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 07:38 AM

All of his stuff showed good life. He also showed a repeatable delivery, good off-speed offerings. When he is down, he looked really good. He finished having pitched 5.2 innings, allowing 7 hits, 2 er, 1 bb, with 6 k's. He threw 101 pitches, giving up too many fly balls (11).

I really liked what we saw. Perhaps most impressive is that after being greeted with the HR, and Double to start the the game; he did not let that mentally end his night. He made adjustments, and found a way out of that initial trouble.

#12 Adam Wolff

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 09:28 AM

If you would have told me at 7:20 that Chen would still be pitching in the 6th inning, I would have had to call you a liar.

He rebounded nicely from a terrible first 2 batters. I'd like to find a baseball historian to tell me how many pitchers have made their MLB debut and faced a guy with 3000 hits and one with 600 homeruns in the same inning. Obviously it might happen some this year against the Yankees, but what a 'Welcome to the MLB, Kid' kind of moment.

He showed good poise though, and I think it's clear that when he's locating, he can be very effective, and when he's not, he'll be very hittable. Overall, an encouraging debut IMO.

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#13 Mackus

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 09:47 AM

I didn't get to see the whole game, but I saw most of Chen's innings (didn't see the 6th, though). I thought he looked quite good. He seems like he should be fine as a #3/4 starter. Probably doesn't have much upside beyond that, but I also think he should be able to stick as a starter, instead of being relegated to a bullpen role. Obviously need to see more, but the early impression was a good one overall.

#14 SportsGuy

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 09:56 AM

His fastball is pretty straight, so that's a bit of a concern but I do like that he was going inside.

#15 Can_of_corn

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 09:59 AM

Back in '09-10 he averaged around 93 with his fastball so you can say his velocity is down.

Too many fly balls.

If the game was played in July how many home runs would the Yankees' have had? I am guessing four.

I liked the command, overall I can not complain about the stuff but I am afraid OPACY is going to chew him up come summertime.

Well I hear Linda Ronstadt is looking for a guitar player.


#16 LanceRinker

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 05:10 PM

Further breaking down Wei-Yin Chen’s start from last night I want to take a look at the pitch selection and the percentage of those pitches that went for strikes, and the total percentage he threw each pitch.

As you can see from the first chart below, Chen threw his fastball 60% of the time while throwing his breaking stuff the other 40% of the time. While I haven’t quite done the level of research necessary to determine whether throwing 60% of your fastballs for strikes is a good thing or not (I plan to do that research over the course of the season though), but it wasn’t his most effective pitch.

His most effective pitch was his slider which was a strike 64% of the time thrown and managed to get a swinging strike 17% of the time with it. His fastball on the other hand he only managed to produce a swinging strike just 3% of the time he used that pitch. Obviously the biggest reason his swinging strike rate is so low with his fastball is because it averages just 89 mph and tops out at 92 mph. That’s not going to overpower major league hitters so he will definitely need to rely on his breaking pitches more as the season goes on.

I imagine that once Chen gets another turn or two through the rotation we will likely see a larger assortment of sliders being thrown during his starts – once he realizes how effective it is against hitters anyway.

Posted Image

Now, on this second chart below we’re looking at how effective he was by inning. Clearly in the first inning he had some issues with his command – he did give up a leadoff home run to Derek Jeter, then a double by Nick Swisher immediately after and even plunked A-Rod with a pitch. All in all, he gave up just one run and two hits in the first inning. That’s not bad considering he seemed a little “amped” up in his first major league start.

He was actually pretty efficient from the second inning on through the fifth inning with his command (overall) and had it not of been the Mark Reynolds error in the sixth inning, Chen would have come out of the game after completed the sixth inning having only given up two runs (total) at that point on what would have been 100 pitches for the game. The Orioles would have maintained the lead in the game at that point and likely would have won, considering how well the bullpen did until the deciding run was given up in the 12th inning.

Overall though, I think Chen will do just fine in the major leagues and should be a solid number three or number four starter for us for the duration of his contract.

Posted Image

#17 Can_of_corn

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 05:48 PM

Nice work Lance.

I had a feeling folks were being generous with his FB velocity last night. 89.75 is definitely 2011 Chen not 2010 and prior. Not surprising considering that the O's were able to sign him to a reasonable deal.

The only issue I have with Chen is the fly ball tendencies. OPACY is not a good match for him. On the bright side the O's run support should be better in the summer and Chen's command should mean that most of the homers he gives up will be solo shots.

Once Britton comes back from the DL lets see if he can teach Chen his 2 seamer.

Well I hear Linda Ronstadt is looking for a guitar player.


#18 LanceRinker

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 12:40 PM

Nice work Lance.

I had a feeling folks were being generous with his FB velocity last night. 89.75 is definitely 2011 Chen not 2010 and prior. Not surprising considering that the O's were able to sign him to a reasonable deal.

The only issue I have with Chen is the fly ball tendencies. OPACY is not a good match for him. On the bright side the O's run support should be better in the summer and Chen's command should mean that most of the homers he gives up will be solo shots.

Once Britton comes back from the DL lets see if he can teach Chen his 2 seamer.



I agree, Chen could definitely use a two seamer because even though he can hit 92 with his fastball, it's generally sitting at 89-90 and that won't fool anyone. He does have some movement but there were times where his fastball flattened out some (1st and 6th innings).

#19 BSLChrisStoner

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 11:45 AM

What do you want to see from Chen, in his 2nd start tomorrow?

#20 Mackus

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 11:53 AM

Aside from the obvious of another solid start that gives the team a good chance to win, I'd like to see him continue to get strikeouts, limit the fly balls, and get a little deeper into the game.




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