(Editor’s note: Matt might be getting a little ahead of himself here. Still, I for one am just thrilled to be having these types of discussions in August, so I have no reservations about posting this.)
After Monday night’s games, the Orioles are just 0.5 games out of the second wild card spot, and one full game out of the first. Following a strong road trip and opening what appears on paper to be a fairly easy home stand in which they will face off against the Seattle Mariners, Kansas City Royals and the basement-dwelling Boston Red Sox with a win, the O’s are in a great spot. They have a golden opportunity to gain ground on the Yankees and either keep pace with or pass some other teams currently in the mix for a wild card berth.
If everything goes well for the Orioles and maybe some things go not so well for a few other teams such as the Angels, Athletics, and Tigers the Orioles could see themselves holding onto one of the two wildcard spots and possibly draw withing striking distance of New York for the division crown.
I know there is still pleanty of baseball to played but lets assume all things go in favor of the birds and they find themselves in possession of a wild card come the end of the season. Who would you like to see start that crucial one game playoff to earn a spot in the divisional round?
Just like any other starter for the Orioles this year it seems like you could plug in anyone and get a fantastic start or a not so great start as starting pitching has been fairly inconsistent to say the least this season.
Do you send the Orioles newfound ace in Jason Hammel? Assuming he is healthy come September and gets a few starts under his belt he may be the popular choice. But coming off an injury in which he misses almost 2 months could have a disastrous result if any part of that injury is still lingering.
How about Tommy Hunter? Hunter has the most playoff experience of any Orioles starting pitcher and that is deffiently a bonus. The only question is will we get the good, strike-throwing inning-eating Tommy Hunter or will we get the Tommy Hunter who gives up 3 or 4 homers and knocks himself out of the game in the 5th inning?
My vote goes for the southpaw rookie out of Chinese Taipei, Wei-Yin Chen. Chen has been fantastic all year and although hes not an “ace” he has been our most consistant starter and proved to be the stopper in the lineup. No matter what kind of “slump” the Os seem to be in when Chen gets the nod to take the mound it seems that the Orioles forget their struggles and rally behind Chen as he has shut down potent offense after potent offense. Why Chen has had so much success in his first season is anyone’s guess, especially a rookie season pitching in the AL East. Maybe its because he’s a lefty, maybe its because hes a rookie and not many teams have seen him before, maybe its because he has ice in his veins and never loses his composure, or maybe its a combination of all this and some Oriole Magic mixed in.
(Editor’s note: Or maybe there are some numbers that justify it.)
Chen has gone through the gauntlet and proved he’s got the stuff to battle with the best of them. Chens has earned wins against the Rays, Red Sox, Yankees, Braves, A’s and the Texas Rangers; all of which (aside from Boston) sit either in a playoff spot or are knocking on the door for one.
If the Orioles are able to earn themselves a game 163 I think Buck would be hard pressed to find a pitcher more deserving than Wei-Yin Chen to take the mound.