A tired arm may not seem like much, but to the Marlins’ starting rotation, any injury is a bad one at this point. Miami’s starting five is already missing the presence of Edinson Volquez, who is also on the DL with a thumb blister.
Marlins starter struggles
The team’s starting rotation has struggled mightily this season, combining for a 6-10 record and a 4.99 ERA. Fangraphs ranks Miami’s starters 29th in the league, with only the Cincinnati Reds’ starters ranking lower. Marlins starters have the highest BB/9 average in the league (4.73) and the fourth highest HR/9 (1.54). The group has a combined 0.2 WAR.
Chen has been the leading figure in the Marlins’ starting rotation this season. In 27 innings pitched, Chen recorded the team’s lowest HR/FB rate (9.1 percent). The lefty also gave up just three of the 25 home runs allowed by Marlins starters in 2017.
Hurting the standings
After their series with the Mets, the Marlins head home for a nine-game homestand against the Cardinals, Braves and Astros. Chen would have pitched against the Braves and Astros, both of whom he’s been relatively successful against in his career.
Against the Braves, Chen has a 1-1 record with a 2.93 ERA. In 27 innings pitched, Chen struck out 18 and allowed just nine runs in his career. Atlanta batters are slashing .242/.323/.604 without hitting a home run against the lefty.
Houston is winless against Chen in five contests, even though their batters hit Chen better than Atlanta. Chen’s career 6.80 K/BB ratio against the Astros is his second best against any opponent.
The Marlins could easily lose any chance to be competitive for October playing time during this homestand if Chen and Volquez miss extended time.
The Marlins called up righty Odrisamer Despaigne from Triple-A New Orleans to start Saturday for Chen, and long reliever Jose Urena to fill in for Volquez on Sunday in the series finale against the New York Mets.
Despaigne made 19 big league appearances in 2016, and has a 2.49 ERA across two minor league levels this season. Urena has appeared in six games for the Marlins this year. In 15.1 innings, Urena allowed 18 hits and struck out just eight.