With Chris Parmelee being added to the “Taxi Squad” on Monday, we knew the Orioles were going to make a move.  In fact, we talked about the move that would be made on the most recent episode of Bird’s Eye View.  We were expecting them to make a simple move by optioning Mike Wright.  If they really wanted to make a big roster move, we figured it would be Travis Snider due to poor offensive power in our other article.

However, the Orioles instead fooled all of us and decided to option Wei-Yin Chen to Single A Frederick and put Jonathan Schoop on the 60-day DL in order to open up a 40 man roster spot. This comes immediately after Chen pitched a masterful start against the Philadelphia Phillies going 8 IP in a shutout with nine strikeouts and only one walk. Some Orioles fans were left scratching their head, but in reality the move the makes perfect sense. Let’s break down the reasons:

  1. Chen’s next start was scheduled to be on Saturday against the Toronto Blue Jays.  The Blue Jays are currently batting with an .876 OPS and 143 wRC+ to lead all MLB against LHP. To put it into perspective, the Detroit Tigers  (who rank 2nd) currently are batting a .764 OPS and 115 wRC+. There was a very good chance that Chen was about to get demolished, especially as a fly ball pitcher, in the homer dome in Toronto.
  2. The move allows them a greater flexibility on the bench for over a week. With Mike Wright now scheduled to pitch on Friday, he can be optioned for Kevin Gausman to come up and start on Saturday. The Orioles wouldn’t need to make another roster move for a starter until next Friday, June 26 when Chen is available again to come back up.
  3. There has been comments about Chen complaining about fatigue on June 10 against Boston. The Orioles used that as their reason for optioning Chen at least publicly. However, there was no loss in velocity or movement even after going 106 pitches in the start against Philadelphia. Chen has had issues in the past with fatigue later in the season. The Orioles obviously want to mitigate his IP to be no higher than 190 and this is an easy way to accomplish this at this time. Last year, the Orioles were are able to do this with their large lead in September. However, we should be expecting a closer race in September for the AL East this year.

The move didn’t come without some controversy. Chen’s Twitter account came to life and this time in English with the following tweets:

With a social media account that has predominantly been in Taiwanese, this reeks of something odd. Scott Boras represents Chen as his agent and with pending free agency at the end of this season, this has a taint of his hands all over it. Boras was later found to comment the following:

This isn’t the first time Chen has been optioned though. If you remember in 2013 and 2014, he was optioned at the end of August prior to the 40 man roster opening up to the Gulf Coast League. The comment that Boras makes that, “I’ve never seen anything like this…” just doesn’t hold water. Boras may be right though, it is “grossly irregular” mindset.  However, it’s this roster turning over that has made the Orioles such a success and they are going to continue to do it even if Boras finds it “grossly irregular”.

In fact, as an Orioles fan, we should have expected these kind of roster moves to be made by Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter. It’s these exact moves that have spurred the Orioles to be as good as they have been for the past three years. The Orioles are constantly shuffling the roster to maximize it to their benefit, if only for a few games. This allows them to minimize players that may negatively contribute and allows them to get hot again before being called up.

In the end, the move allows the Orioles a greater degree of flexibility to work out the roster crunch for at least another week. And as mad as Boras may be about the situation, he will agree to a contract for Chen that has the most years and dollars attached. As for Chen?  He knows the dance that this team does and has accepted it in the past. He’s a professional and he will rise to the challenge….in 10 days.