Baltimore Orioles: Chen will need to show mental toughness

Wei-Yin Chen looked pretty shaky in the Baltimore Orioles’ 13-4 loss yesterday in Sarasota. Chen’s line: 3.1 IP, 8 H, 7 R, (6 earned), 2 BB, 2 K. It’s tough to put lipstick on a pig as they say, however of the three homers that Chen surrendered all of them were wind-aided. In fairness, the Orioles have hit a few of those thus far at Ed Smith Stadium, which is starting to form a reputation as a park where the wind can either make or break you. To Chen’s credit, he didn’t accept the wind as an excuse after the game when it was put to him. I suppose that the message here is that it’s fine for fans and even analysts to mention that there were outside factors in a player’s performance, however the players themselves shouldn’t buy into that attitude.

Courtesy of Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

After the game Chen said that he felt his pitches were up in the zone and his timing was off as well, some of which might be attributed to the fact that Chen has been working out in minor league camp. With all of this said, let’s remember who we’re talking about; first off, we know that Chen is a fly ball pitcher. Obviously you’d prefer not to be a fly ball pitcher, but that’s just the makeup of some guys. (Fly ball outs count the same as ground outs and strike outs.) So combine that with the breeze that was blowing out yesterday, and there’s your three homers. However more importantly, Chen exhibited a short memory last season after a bad outing here and there. That’s why I submit that Orioles fans should not be concerned about him in the least. I’ve said many times that pitchers will generally turn in 10 good outings, 10 poor, and 10 “in-between” outings over the course of the season. No matter who you are, that seems to be the pattern. After bad starts last season, Chen always seemed to bounce back nicely. Therefore using history as a guide, there’s no reason to fret this will be any different.

Philadelphia was able to get the ball into the prevailing winds of Sarasota yesterday, and the Orioles weren’t. There’s your ballgame folks. Yuniesky Betancourt, Ryan Howard, and Domonic Brown each hit a home run, and Chase Utley hit two. However in echoing the sentiments of never say die from 2012, Ryan Flaherty hit a 9th inning RBI-double to put the Orioles’ fourth run on the board of the day. I feel that’s very important because playing with that kind of attitude now will in fact set the tone for what happens in the regular season. Granted you hope that you have fewer than nine or ten runs to make up once league play begins, however the point is that you always play until the final out.

Zach Britton has been re-assigned to minor league camp, so presumably he’s now out of the 5th starter competition for the time being. Brian Matusz will make the start this afternoon in Bradenton against Pittsburgh, and Chris Tillman will pitch in the minor league game at Twin Lakes Park. At the moment, Jake Arrieta appears to be in the driver’s seat to be the 5th starter, however that’s far from set in stone. Many things can happen between now and April 6th. Keep in mind that’s the date that the 5th starter will be used for the first time. So it’s very possible that whomever that person is will be on the roster but not named the starter. Time will tell, however we’re going to find out a lot about the 2013 Orioles this coming week because it’s the final week of Grapefruit League play!

Topics: Baltimore Orioles, Wei-Yin Chen

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