Chen deserved better in his MLB debut

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Wei-Yin Chen deserved better than he got Tuesday night in Baltimore, but deserving better than you get is something of a theme for Orioles pitchers in recent years.[1]

Chen's major league debut came to a fitting conclusion considering he wears an Orioles uniform. In line to earn a win as he pitched in what was likely his final inning of the game, Chen watched as Mark Reynolds booted a two-out grounder to third. Given an extra out, the Yankees capitalized on the opportunity and tied the game at four runs a piece.

Pitching before an estimated one million television viewers in his native Taiwan, Chen had the opportunity to start his career with a victory against one of the few internationally recognized teams in baseball, the New York Yankees. Instead, he came away with a no-decision and what would have been a quality start turned into a relatively pedestrian line: 5 2/3 innings pitched, seven hits, four runs (two earned), one walk and six strikeouts.[2]

There's a reason people are suspicious of the concept of quality starts, just as there's suspicion surrounding the true value of wins as a measure of a pitcher's value. Chen's focus was the latter.

Said Chen: “I didn't help the team get a win tonight. This is the reason I'm here, to help the team get a win. I'm not satisfied.”

On the contrary, Mr. Chen, you did help the team to get a win. But this is Baltimore, where booted baseballs or, more often, blown saves steal wins that pitchers have otherwise earned.

Reynolds summarized things appropriately.

“Chen pitched his tail off out there, and I boot that ball. That’s a play that’s got to be made. They capitalized on it, and we really couldn’t get anything going after that. It’s very, very, very frustrating.”

It sure is.



[1] See, for example, my 2010 post "Quality starts not leading to quality outcomes in Baltimore" or this 2010 post about Jeremy Guthrie and Kevin Millwood.

[2] I say pedestrian, but I'll gladly take a six-to-one strikeout-to-walk ratio from any Orioles pitcher.

Image source: Here


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