Marlins tab Chen over Fernandez for Opening Day
The Miami Marlins will send their biggest offseason addition to the mound Opening Day against the Detroit Tigers, tabbing newly signed left-hander Wei-Yin Chen - not former All-Star Jose Fernandez - for their April 5 season opener, manager Don Mattingly announced Sunday.
Despite getting the Opening Day nod in 2014 after earning the National League Rookie of the Year award the season before, Fernandez - who spent the first half of the 2015 campaign recovering from Tommy John surgery - will follow Chen in the rotation, potentially giving him an extra day of his rest before his next start.
"Generally, you're trying to protect him, and I think that's the bottom line," Mattingly told reporters. "I look at my responsibility as you try to protect guys. Protect their careers, and they know that's part of the process."
Chen, who landed a five-year, $80-million contract in January, will be tasked with neutralizing a potent, overwhelmingly right-handed Tigers lineup in his first ever start in Marlins uniform. Last year, the Tigers posted the majors' second-best OPS against left-handed pitching, and the club should be tough on southpaws again this season with the addition of Justin Upton.
Though Chen crafted a career-best 3.34 ERA (124 ERA+) in 31 starts for the Baltimore Orioles last season, he allowed a whopping 25 homers to right-handed batters, who hit .274/.318/.496 off the 30-year-old Taiwan native.
Fernandez navigated a turbulent offseason that featured incessant trade tumors, reports of a rift between him and the front office, and some heated exchanges between his agent and his employer. He limited right-handed hitters to a .446 OPS last year and hasn't lost in 26 career starts at Marlins Park.