The Marlins have gone 0-12 in Thursday games this season. Nobody can explain it because it defies any rational explanation. They’ve gone 7-6 on Wednesdays and 8-9 on Fridays. But the day in the middle has been a winless void.
Which brings us to Wei-Yin Chen, who is his own anomaly.
Chen this season has been exceptional in games he’s pitched at Marlins Park but abominable in ones he’s pitched anywhere else.
And nobody can explain it.
The disparity is so striking that manager Don Mattingly decided to push back Chen’s previously scheduled start on Sunday in Philadelphia to Monday back in Miami.
“We’re not going to try to explain it,” Mattingly said. “We’re going to ride it, hopefully.”
Chen has gone 2-2 with a 2.18 ERA in his eight starts at Marlins Park. His home ERA ranks eighth in the majors this season. It’s better than Jake Arrieta’s at Citizens Bank Park. It’s better than Max Scherzer’s at Nationals Park. It’s better than Clayton Kershaw’s at Dodger Stadium.
They’ve all won Cy Young Awards.
But take Chen out of Miami and he becomes road kill.
Chen has gone 1-6 with an ERA of 10.27 on the road, the worst figure in the majors.
He gave up nine runs in only three innings at Wrigley Field in Chicago.
He gave up seven runs in four innings at Coors Field in Denver.
He gave up seven runs in 4 1/3 innings at Nationals Park in Washington.
And the list goes on.
The only city outside of Miami where he’s won this season was Baltimore, which is the place he called home for four years before he signed with the Marlins.
“I’ve been trying to figure out why, too,” Chen said through his interpreter.
Chen never struggled on the road in the past. He holds a 29-28 career road record and went 6-5 in his first seasons with the Marlins.
“When I was with the Orioles, I didn’t have these problems, and sometimes even pitched better on the road,” Chen said.
But if his road woes continue, Chen’s season could reach historical levels.
If the season ended now, Chen would finish with the fifth-worst single-season road ERA in major league history. Mark Mulder holds the dubious mark with a 10.93 road ERA in 2006.
Chen has thought of everything, from bringing the regular pillow he sleeps on at home to having his wife join him on road trips to cook up his favorite dishes.
“Maybe they’re the difference,” Chen said. “But I don’t think that’s the main reason.”
Chen and pitching coach Juan Nieves have gone over his game tapes, looking for any differences. So far they have found none.
“Me and Juan, we’ve been trying to figure out why i have such a big (home/road) split,” Chen said. “I feel like I pitch the same way on the road as at home and he does to. He feels like I’m the same guy.”
But Chen hasn’t been the same guy.
And even though neither he nor the Marlins have an explanation for it, they’re taking no chances with the baseball gods. Chen would have pitched Sunday in Philadelphia.
But Wednesday’s rainout in Atlanta allowed Mattingly to play with the rotation, to re-shape it in a way to avoid having to hand the ball to Chen when the Marlins close out their road trip in Philadelphia.
Dan Straily will start instead, and Chen will now receive two starts at home this week in Miami.
“We don’t have an explanation,” Mattingly said. “We don’t know why. But there’s no reason to fight it.”