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Orioles lefty Wei-Yin Chen showing ability to improve his arsenal

It’s no secret that the success of Orioles rookie  Wei-Yin Chen this season will depend on how the Taiwanese left-hander adjusts to opponents once they’ve seen him a while.

But Chen looks like he’s trying to beat batters to the punch.

Sunday was Chen’s 14th major league start, so teams have plenty of tape on the lefty. It was the first time he faced the Braves in his big league career, but with every week, teams are getting their second look at Chen. Newness lasts only so long.

So given that, was Chen suppose to throw his best outing of his career Sunday in Atlanta, tossing seven shutout innings against the Braves?

“He attacked the strike zone from the get go,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.

On Sunday, Chen (7-2) showed that he’s willing to make adjustments before hitters make adjustments to him. His bread-and-butter was a nice fastball/change-up combo, but he managed to take a little extra off his offspeed pitch, occasionally throwing it in the mid-60s. No one’s seen that before.

Chen also showed a curveball that could be used anywhere in the count, but was key as an out pitch. He said after the game that he’s working on his slider, too.

 “He’s a quick learner,” said Showalter, pointing out how Chen improved his time to the plate to 1.2 seconds, allowing him to play with his offspeed pitch. “He grabs on real quick.”

In his short time here, Chen has shown Orioles fans a certain toughness. His low-90s fastball isn’t dazzling, but the way he mixes it is. He’s also shown that he’s a thinker, that he’s eager to accept the challenge of throwing big league hitters off.

“He’s been confident the whole time,” said Orioles catcher Matt Wieters, who had an off day Sunday. ”I just think he’s trying to adjust to hitters before they adjust to him, which is big. That’s what can make you really successful in this league, to be able to adjust and make changes even before the hitters are making changes to you. It’s always good to use different pitches or use other pitches more to keep hitters guessing. That’s always going to make you more successful as a pitcher.

“He was able mix some offspeed stuff. His curveball he used a lot more today than he’s used in the past. It’s always good when you can use that extra pitch you can break out because guys are going to try to adjust, so if you can get that fourth pitch that you can work in there it makes the hitters think even more.”

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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