If Wei-Yin Chen gets deep into the game here tonight against Tampa Bay, do the Orioles have to tread very lightly when he reaches the 100-pitch count?
The stat sheet says yes.
First of all, Chen's ERA is 11.25 from the seventh inning on, with four homers allowed over eight innings. Secondly, his batting average against, which is just .213 on his 76th to 100th pitches, balloons to .500 with an OPS of 1.931 on pitches 101 and up.
Chen has allowed eight hits in 16 at-bats this year on pitches 101 and higher, and has given up two doubles and four homers.
I asked manager Buck Showalter that, even if Chen is throwing well tonight, would he have to consider taking him out at that point?
"I wouldn't be led around by the nose ring by the stat sheet," Showalter said. "There are nights when he had his best outings, just because it says it for that time period ,I wouldn't. ... Sometimes it has something to do with our bullpen, too. Many times we go hitter to hitter with the guy. We'll see.
"If I could them not to hit 30 fouls balls off him, it'd work out a lot better. In the big leagues, great pitches get made with two strikes and guys tick (foul) them off. (Evan) Longoria did it twice (last night). Great pitches made and you had to make them again."
In his last outing against Colorado, Chen gave up a two-run homer to the No. 9 hitter in the seventh inning to break a 2-2 tie.
I asked catcher Matt Wieters if Chen hits a wall at that point.
"No, I think you just see when you see guys three or four times, big league hitters will adjust," Wieters said. "Wei-Yin's stuff is fine. We want him on the mound tonight and hopefully he gets us a big win tonight."
So he holds his stuff well deep into the game?
"Oh, yeah, the stuff is fine," Wieters said. "Wei-Yin works harder than anyone. He gets himself prepared and he is in shape to go as long as we need him.
"The thing with him is, with his fastball being the pitch he likes to go to, he gets a lot of foul balls and gets a lot of deep counts. Hitters then get to see even more pitches off him."
Does Wieters need to rethink how he calls the game when Chen hits the 100-pitch limit?
"No, because Wei-Yin has been throwing the ball good enough for us to win each game he goes out there. I think it's more the offense's job to get him more runs and than he can go deeper in the game without as many pressures pitches throughout the whole way," he said.