Didn't get a chance to watch Bruce Chen throw yesterday, but a quick glance at the box score is all I need to know something's not right. Chen was hit hard for the third consecutive start, giving up three earned runs on 10 hits in four innings to fall to 0-3. Jason Giambi homered twice off of Chen, who has surrendered eight long balls in his past three outings.
Chen has become a fantasy favorite since arriving in Baltimore because of his ability to limit baserunners and post a respectable ERA. His 1.268 WHIP last season ranked 40th among all starting pitchers, but his ratio has ballooned to an alarming 1.790 in 2006. His 7.84 ERA this season is one of highest among starters.
The soft-tossing Chen will never be overpowering, but he's carved out a career as a pitcher who could get ahead in the count and keep hitters off-balance by throwing offspeed pitches in fastball situations, and vice versa. He's the epitome of a "crafty left-hander" when he's right. But Chen isn't fooling anyone right now, and as long as that trend continues, he's not worth using in any fantasy format.
On a positive note, Miguel Tejada leads the majors with a .425 average after going 4-for-4 against the Yankees on Sunday, picking up the Orioles' only hits in a 7-1 loss. Tejada went 15-for-29 with 3 homers and 10 RBIs last week.
Corey Patterson made four consecutive starts last week, with mixed results. Patterson, the beneficiary of injuries to David Newhan (leg) and Luis Matos (shoulder), went 4-for-9 with a home run, 2 RBIs and a stolen base in two games against the Indians at Camden Yards. But he was 0-for-8 with three strikeouts in two games in New York and sat in favor of Luis Terrero on Sunday with left-hander Randy Johnson on the mound.
Patterson remains an enticing power-speed combo option, but there will be plenty more 0-for-4's in his future unless he changes his free-swinging approach at the plate. With the Orioles set to face three lefties in six games this week, he figures to spend a lot of time on the bench.
Lastly, I've added a matchups feature so you can see who's pitching for and against the Orioles in the days ahead. Notable this week: Thursday's matchup with Blue Jays rookie Casey Janssen (18 Ks in 20 IP at Triple-A Syracuse), who will start in place of A.J. Burnett; and a Saturday showdown with Mariners phenom Felix Hernandez, who surrendered a career-high six earned runs in a loss to the Orioles last September.
The Orioles are off today for the first time since April 4, the day after Opening Day. For more O's insight and analysis, check out beat reporter Jeff Zrebiec's Orioles audio report.
This week's matchups
- Tuesday - O's (Lopez) at Blue Jays (Chacin-L), 7:07 p.m.
- Wednesday - O's (Bedard) at Blue Jays (Lilly-L), 7:07 p.m.
- Thursday - O's (Benson) at Blue Jays (Janssen-R), 7:07 p.m
- Friday - Mariners (Meche-R) at O's (Cabrera), 7:05 p.m.
- Saturday - Mariners (Hernandez-R) at O's (Chen), 4:35 p.m.
- Sunday - Mariners (Moyer-L) at O's (Lopez), 1:35 p.m.