Game 83, Orioles at Mariners
Felix Hernandez vs. Wei-Yin Chen, 7:10pm
Happy Felix Day!
Wei-Yin Chen is a lefty out of Taiwan whom the Orioles signed out of the Japanese league. He had a remarkable 2009 season for the Chunichi dragons, posting the lowest ERA in decades, but he was released by his club after 2011 meaning that the Orioles didn’t need to navigate the posting process. Some reports after his signing had his fastball in the 92-94 range, but that hasn’t materialized thus far. He’s averaging 91 on both his four- and two-seam fastballs, and also throws a slider and a curve (to left-handed batters) and a change-up (to right-handers). Through three months of the season, Chen’s been an above-average starter, posting 1.2 fWAR and 1.7 rWAR. Chen’s a fly-ball pitcher, so he’ll probably enjoy pitching at Safeco. He gets an above average number of swinging strikes, and it’s his fastball that’s doing the heavy lifting. It’s only 15 starts, but Chen’s getting more whiffs with his four-seam fastball than King Felix.
Today’s line-up marks the return of Mike Saunders from what sounds like a particularly nasty stomach flu. Smoak and Montero are back after yesterday’s night off, so Ackley slides back to second.
2: Wells (LF)
4: Montero (DH)
5: Olivo (C)
6: Saunders (CF)
SP: King Felix
Danny Hultzen starts tonight’s game in Tacoma. The July 3rd game’s the biggest of the year for the Rainiers, with a huge fireworks show afterwards. Thus, while we’ve had quite a bit of rain and wind today, there’s essentially no chance the game’s getting rained out. I haven’t seen what direction the wind’s blowing, but tonight could get wacky.
James Paxton’s on the hill right now for Jackson, and he’s been solid through three scoreless innings – striking 1 and, most importantly, not walking anyone.