Kansas City Royals’ pitcher Bruce Chen tossed his third consecutive quality start on Tuesday, limiting the Indians to just two runs on six hits in seven innings. He also walked three and struck out five.
Through 26 innings (four starts) this season, the 33-year-old southpaw is 3-0 with a 2.42 ERA and 1.15 WHIP to go along with 16 strikeouts and seven walks. This begs the question: Is Bruce Chen worth a waiver wire flier?
Chen pitched just 10 innings for the Rangers in 2007 before undergoing Tommy John surgery, effectively wiping out his entire 2007 and 2008 seasons.
He returned in 2009 with the Royals, pitching in 17 games (nine starts) with a 5.78 ERA and 1.59 WHIP. His FIP (5.55) and xFIP (5.22) agreed with his ineffectiveness, though to be fair, this was in just 62 1/3 innings—a very small sample size.
In 2010, Chen pitched both as a starter and out of the bullpen. In 33 games (23 starts), he amassed 140 1/3, recording a 4.17 ERA and 1.38 WHIP. Not great, but certainly worthy of a spot start here or there given a favorable matchup. His strikeout and walk ratios (6.29 and 3.66, respectively) were both below the MLB average.
All told, Chen has pitched 228 2/3 big league innings since his Tommy John surgery, totalling a 4.40 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 6.26 K/9 and 3.50 BB/9. Ideal? Absolutely not. Useful? Not even close.
Yet somehow, Chen has produced very good numbers thus far. His mid-80′s fastball/mid-70′s changeup combo generally makes up about 75 percent of the pitches he throws. They’ve been average pitches in 2011.
Chen generally pitches to contact, and the Royals defense has aided his performance thus far. His advanced stats, however, suggest what we already know: He’s a below-average pitcher.
It’s difficult to urge against him given his recent results. His next scheduled start will be at Texas, however, a matchup nobody in their right mind would favor Chen in.
Bottom line is Chen might be a decent spot starter here or there, but he’s not going to be a reliable option all season. If you’re part of the nine percent of Yahoo! users that own him, it would be wise to seek a trade. However, if your fellow league members are at least as smart as a rock, they’ll likely pass.
Image courtesy of: Keith Allison
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