Placing 27-year-old rookie Wei-Yin Chen on the mound in Monday’s ALDS Game 2 wasn’t a difficult decision for Orioles manager Buck Showalter considering the experience the left-hander has against the New Yrok Yankees this season.
Chen, who hasn't won a decision since Aug. 19, is 0-4 in his last 7 outings and 1-2 with a 5.25 ERA in four starts against the Yankees. But he’s allowed three or fewer earned runs in three of those four starts, and he was one out away from recording quality starts in all of those games.
“He should have some history with them and we’ve gotten a return for those times he’s pitched well,” Showalter said. “One of the good things watching him pitch in meaningful games is somehow we think we have a corner here. These things are big, but … people talk to me about Latin young players and stuff and guys that have played in Japan, you still got to go out there. He’s got experience pitching in front of big crowds in big games.”
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Chen, a Taiwan native who pitched the last four years in Japan, has labored down the stretch, not looking like the same pitcher who won seven of his first nine starts. And the Orioles have been tactical with giving Chen extra days rest; he will pitch Monday on six days rest. He is 1-1 with a 2.28 ERA in four starts with six or more days of rest.
Showalter has also tentatively slated 28-year-old rookie Miguel Gonzalez to pitch Game 3 at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday. Gonzalez is available out of the bullpen for Game 1.
“[With] Gonzo, we’ve taken all the information and the experience factor, and he pitched well there,” Showalter said. “They always have a full house in New York and it will also give us an opportunity to use him out of the pen if we wanted to.”
Gonzalez is 2-0 with a 2.63 ERA in two starts at Yankees Stadium this season, allowing 10 hits with 17 strikeouts and 3 walks over 13 2/3 innings.
Considering the confidence he put in left-hander Joe Saunders -- who was earned the win Friday night in Texas in the AL wild-card game after going 0-6 with a 9.38 ERA at Rangers Ballpark -- it's difficult to question Showalter's matchups now.