Chen looks to reverse pitching woes in return from DL

July 10, 2013 | Max Buchdahl

After two disappointing pitching performances that resulted in two losses to the Rangers, Wei-Yin Chen makes his long-awaiting return from the DL, looking to get the Orioles starting pitching back on the right track. The southpaw went 3-3 with a 3.04 ERA in his first eight starts of the year, before an oblique injury sidelined him.

Chen’s last start came back on May 12 in a win over the Minnesota Twins. He had been one of the Orioles most consistent starters through the first month of the season, but his injury helped accelerate the never-ending taxi service from Baltimore to Norfolk to Bowie and back.

While we would never hope for an injury, Chen’s oblique strain may prevent him from being burned out towards the end of the season. Last year, his first in Major League Baseball, Chen went 0-4 with a 5.05 ERA in the month of September. The easy answer is to look at the Nippon Professional Baseball League, where Chen pitched before to his move to the United States. In the Nippon league, there are only 140 games in a season, compared to the 162 in Major League Baseball. That cuts almost a whole month off the season. No wonder Chen struggled so in that final month of the regular season. After all, he was the only Orioles starter to appear in over thirty games in 2012.

After missing two months of the season, Chen has primed himself to be fresher in September, and hopefully into October as well.

Wei-Yin Chen’s adversary for the third game of four against the Rangers will be Josh Lindblom, who is in his third professional season. Lindblom has split his big-league time as both a starter and a reliever for the Rangers, Phillies, and Dodgers. In just four career starts, he is 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA and a .284 opponent batting average. After starting his career with the Dodgers, he was dealt to the Phillies last year as part of the Shane Victorino deal.

Lindblom is big on the long ball, giving up sixteen of them in his short career. Of those sixteen, fourteen have come in Lindblom’s first 25 pitches of the outing. That stat is slightly skewed, however, given that the majority of his appearances have come out the bullpen. Nonetheless, look for Orioles hitters to be aggressive early on in the game.

He is especially bad against left-handed hitters, sporting a 14.7% home run to fly ball (HR/FB) ratio, which is especially poor. If there is any night for Chris Davis to send one onto Eutaw Street, this would be the one.

The main question for the Orioles continues to be the starting pitching. Hopefully, Chen’s return will give the O’s rotation the spark-plug they need to finish out the first half of the season. If Chen can grind out a successful outing tonight against a Rangers team that loves to feed off of Orioles pitching, he could start a trend to get Orioles pitchers back on the winning side.