Sunday, January 15, 2012

Looking Ahead: Wei-Yin Chen

First, a little background on the Orioles newest international acquisition.  Wei-Yin Chen is a 26 year old Taiwanese pitcher who has played in the NPB (Japan's equivalent to MLB) for his entire professional career.  Chen stands about 6 feet tall, and throws left-handed.  Chen's repertoire includes a fastball that sits in the low to mid 90s and tops out around 96, a mid-80s slider, and a 'forkball' that he is said to be developing.  Odds are, Chen will likely work on that and possibly a changeup in Spring Training with the O's this year.  It should be noted that Chen's velocity dipped into the high 80s for much of last season, though Dan Duquette attributes this to an oblique strain that Chen pitched through.  Duquette noted that Chen's velocity was back up in the NPB playoffs and that he is not concerned.
Chen pitching for the Chunichi Dragons in 2011

Chen's past 4 seasons give an idea of his ability to limit baserunners, posting a WHIP of 1.063 over that time.  For comparison, a 1.063 WHIP landed Doug Fister 10th in MLB last season (granted, NPB is not the same level of competition).  Additionally, over those 4 seasons, Chen pitched to a 2.48 ERA, comparable to Daisuke Matsuzaka, and only half a run worse than Yu Darvish.

It was kind of surprising that interest in Chen was limited compared to past NPB free agents.  After all, he's 26, left-handed and has the potential to throw a mid 90s fastball.  Regardless, the O's jumped on the opportunity, so their gain.

I'm going to take a stab at projecting Chen's production in the MLB this year.  Take it with a grain of salt or two, as I have never seen Chen pitch in person, nor am I certain he will regain his velocity.  That said:


  1. That projection would likely be, in terms of ERA+, a better MLB debut than Dice-K or Hideki Kuroda. That would be nice but I don't think it's all that likely!

    1. Heath, I understand why you might be less optimistic about Chen but I think he's going to be a hidden gem of the offseason.

      Guys seem to be writing him off but here's what we know. He's 26 years old, just entering his prime. He throws low to mid 90s from the left side, and has above average offspeed stuff. Similar pitchers include Danks (91.6 mph), Lester (92.6 mph), Kershaw (93.2). I'm not suggesting he's going to be a Lester or Kershaw, but numbers similar to Derek Holland last year (94.1 mph) isn't out of the question -

    2. Ps - I used to comment on your blog all the time before starting this one up. Keep up the great work.