The Baltimore Orioles will get a much-needed lift on Wednesday in the form of Wei-Yin Chen.
The left-hander from Taiwan will take the bump for the O’s for the first time since May 12th, a 5-0 win over the Minnesota Twins, in which Chen suffered a right oblique injury that landed him on the disabled list.
Prior to the injury, Chen was 3-3 with a solid 3.04 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP. Last season, Chen was a slight revelation for Baltimore, who made an unlikely playoff run thanks in part to Chen’s impressive rookie campaign. He was only 12-11 with a 4.03 ERA, but he was one of the O’s most consistent starters on a pitching staff in turmoil (man, that feels eerily familiar). The Orioles hope that the 27 year old will regain his form quickly and not suffer any aggravations to his oblique, which is why they were so careful with his recovery process. Baltimore has already lost stud prospect Dylan Bundy to Tommy John surgery, and their other young pitchers haven’t quite worked out the way the team had hoped.
With Chen’s return comes a decision for Orioles manager Buck Showalter. Will he go with a six-man rotation for a while, or will he choose to move one of his starters to the bullpen (or AAA Norfolk)? If he sends someone down, the likely candidate is Zach Britton, who has bounced between Norfolk and Baltimore the last few seasons. Britton has pitched well in his last few starts, but still has minor league options, and Scott Feldman, Miguel Gonzales, and Chris Tillman are rotation mainstays. Jason Hammel has been inconsistent all year, but Buck will likely stick with him due to his success last season (UPDATE: Britton has indeed been sent down to make room for Chen).
Chen’s first game back will come against the Texas Rangers (51-37) in game 3 of a 4-game set. His success, or lack thereof, could determine if the O’s make another move for a SP at the trade deadline.
Game 1 against Texas is tonight at 7:05pm ET. Feldman (0-0, 3.00) will take the hill for Baltimore, opposing Derek Holland (6-4, 3.13). Baltimore (49-40) needs a good showing after losing consecutive series to the Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees.