In an effort to boost a rotation that had MLB’s worst ERA last season the Orioles brought in a pair of starters who’d thrived in Japan, signing Wei-Yin Chen for $11.3 million and Tsuyoshi Wada for $8.15 million.
Wada experienced elbow problems early in spring training and will miss the entire season following Tommy John surgery, but Chen is looking like an excellent investment so far.
Last night he tossed seven innings of two-run ball against the Yankees, out-dueling CC Sabathia and improving to 4-0 with a 2.45 ERA in seven starts. His secondary numbers aren’t quite as impressive with a modest 32/14 K/BB ratio in 44 innings, but Chen has allowed just three homers and has proven very capable of success against strong lineups.
Of those seven starts two have come against the Yankees and he’s faced the Rangers and Red Sox once apiece. Those are the three highest-scoring teams in the American League and the 26-year-old left-hander has a 2.84 ERA against them despite averaging just 90.1 miles per hour with his fastball.
The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”
Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”
The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.