Starting pitcher Wei-Yin Chen, who hasn't made a start for the Orioles since May 12th, will be coming off the disabled list this week. He pitched 7 shutout innings for Bowie yesterday and word on the Twitter from the beat writers is that he's driving up to New York to meet the team.
The earliest Chen can pitch will be Tuesday, and it'll be a boon to the rotation to get him back in. He was having a fine season before he was sidelined with an oblique strain, pitching 47 1/3 innings in eight starts with a 3.04 ERA. The return of Chen, along with the addition of Scott Feldman, will really help strengthen the rotation that has been a major weakness for the team this year.
It unfortunately appears that lefty Zach Britton will be the odd man out when Chen is activated. Britton has made four starts since his call up with an ERA of 2.74. And while the starts haven't been without their blemishes, in his last start he finally conquered the sixth inning blues and pitched seven innings with two runs allowed and just one walk.
Even with the promise he has shown, there just might not be a place for him. Miguel Gonzalez and Chris Tillman are anchored into the rotation thanks to their performance, and Jason Hammel has a spot based on the fact that he has eight years in the majors and a $6.75M contract. There is always the possibility that Hammel could take a place in the bullpen, which is where he spent part of the season in Colorado before he was traded to the O's, but I doubt it. Given the success Hammel had last year combined with those other factors I already mentioned, I think his spot is safe unless he is injured or just falls completely apart.
So it seems unfair that Britton will be the casualty, but that's the way it goes. Even with his recent performance he has a number of question marks, and he is the low man on the totem pole. But if he does get booted out of the rotation, I'm confident he'll still get his chance. These things have a way of working themselves out, whether through injury or something else.
The Britton conundrum doesn't put me off on the return of Chen, though. I'm excited for it. It'll be great to see him back out there and with the dip the offense has taken lately, the team needs all the pitching help it can get.