After two impressive debuts from Asian pitchers (Darvish and Iwakuma) we can add another to the list. Taiwanese pitcher Wei-Ying Chen for the Baltimore Orioles.
In his 2 innings against the Twins, Chen only gave up 1 hit and struck out 3 (he actually struck out the side after giving up a single). A small sample to be sure, but he did what he needs to do.
So what about Chen’s past that can tell us about his future? There is much to like here – in 4 seasons in Japan, he has posted an ERA of 2.48. But, his SO/9 has trended downward over those 4 seasons, from 8.4 to 5.1. There are a couple theories about this, maybe his injury (thigh injury) is causing him to not throw quite as hard (his fastball has dropped a few MPH last year), or maybe he’s becoming more of a contact pitcher. Even though his strikeouts are lower, his other stats are benefiting - his ERA was still great, his HRs went down, and his WHIP just gets better and better. What will he be in the MLB? No way to know for sure until we see a little more from him. Maybe he puts it all together and increases his Ks and continues to keep the other stats down.
For fantasy purposes, he makes for a nice sleeper in the later rounds. Yes, he plays for an average Baltimore team in a tough AL East division. And yes, he has never faced MLB caliber batters. But that is why he’s a late rounder.
Asian pitchers are coming out of the gate strong! There is a spot in fantasy for all of them.