Originally Posted by duncan_idaho
Right. Comes down to Chen being fine/usable as long as you know what he is and handle him accordingly.
He had a similar number of starts (10) in which he breezed through his last inning with no problem, and five more in which he was yanked at the first sign of trouble (team escaped with no damage). He averaged just over 6 1/3 innings in those instances.
In the starts where he was left in "too long," 4 were starts where he ran into trouble in the 7th and, 8 were in the 6th, and one was in the 5th.
I'm not trying to say he's a stud or anything. Just that he's fine IF you monitor him carefully and hook him quickly once he runs into the first sign of trouble. About 1/3 of the time, he's good for 5 innings. About 1/2 the time, he was good for 6 innings.
Better management - and being able to slide him to the 4 or 5 spot, where he doesn't need to eat as many innings - would maximize Chen's effectiveness and minimize the times he hurts the team.
To me, it's similar to giving a lefthanded hitter who is hopeless against lefites a day off against them. You have the data that tells you the guy is likely to be a negative factor with the bat that day, and respond to it.
That's a lot easier to do when you've got a legit number one pitching the next day. When your one through three starters pitch a total of 16 innings, you're screwed.