It looks like Wei-Yin Chen will be on the bump on Monday for the Miami Marlins when they begin a series with the Washington Nationals at Marlins Park. The move will push rookie Jake Esch out of the rotation. The 31-year old pitcher has been sidelined since July with an elbow strain.
While the news of Chen’s return is good for the Marlins, the loss on Friday night to the Philadelphia Phillies further hurt the team’s wild card chances. Miami fell below .500 with the 4-3 loss. The move also give Jose Fernandez an extra day's rest.
"I think it's important -- both for the team and myself -- because I haven't been pitching for a really long time," Chen said through an interpreter. "So it's going to be important how I can make a contribution to the team."
Pitching has been the Achilles heel of this ball club in the second half of the season. Injuries to Chen, Adam Conley and David Phelps have caused manager Don Mattingly to scramble with replacements in the rotation. The team has also dealt with AJ Ramos being on the disabled list from the bullpen. Now, it would appear the staff will be the healthiest it has been in months – but it might be too late to salvage the season and a playoff run.
"We'll be careful with him for sure," Mattingly said, wrote Evan Webeck of MLB.com. "We'll measure the game and see how it's going. … If it's four, if it's five, we're not looking for him to go seven or eight. It'll be a fairly short leash, but hopefully it's more like let's just compete and see how far he can go and not worry about pitching deep into the game or anything like that."
Chen, the club's 2016 Opening Day starter and main offseason acquisition, posted a 4.99 ERA -- his highest by almost a full run since coming to the Major Leagues in '12 -- through 19 outings before landing on the disabled list.
Chen isn't likely to go much deeper in his first outing back. He said pitching coach Juan Nieves indicated to him he wouldn't have a hard pitch count, but 80 was about what to expect. It’s possible he doesn’t get to that number as Mattingly indicated he thinks the pitch count will be less in his first time back on the mound.