Jun 17, 2016

Early 2000's Mets Pitcher: Bruce Chen (2001-2002)

Bruce Kastulo Chen was born on June 19, 1977 in Panama City, Panama. Although he was born & raised in Panama, he is of Chinese decent. The six foot two left hander was originally signed by the Atlanta Braves in 1993 making it to the big leagues five years later.

In 1998 he was a 12 game winner at A ball Macon, getting promoted to AA the next season. In 1999 he was 15-8 with a 3.09 ERA at AA Greenville & AAA Richmond. He would debut with Atlanta in 1998 & pitch briefly there for three seasons as a starter & reliever.

In the 2000 season he began at 4-0 before getting traded to the Philadelphia Phillies that June. In Philadelphia he fell to 3-4 and the next season was traded to the New York Mets for Turk Wendell & Dennis Cook. Two good middle relievers who were key to the Mets in getting to the post season the previous two seasons.  

Chen made his first Mets start in Houston on August 1st, pitching well allowing just two runs over six innings, but getting no decision. In his second start on August 7, 2001 he got his first Met victory against the Milwaukee Brewers at Shea Stadium. He pitched seven innings of shutout, two hit ball, striking out seven Brewers along the way.

At the end of August he picked up two more wins on a Shea home stand, including a seven inning, one run three hit performance against the San Francisco Giants. Then he got hit hard as the season came to end giving up five runs or more four times from August 29th through September.

In the classic September 21st game at Shea Satadium where baseball made its return to New York after the 911 attacks, Chen pitched a scoreless 6th inning of relief. It was in this game where Mike Piazza hit one of the most famous HRs in Mets regular season history, an 8th inning game winner against the Atlanta Braves.

After coming to New York Chen finished at 3-2 with a 4.68 ERA allowing ten HRs with 47 strike outs in 59 innings of work in eleven games. That season the Mets fell to a disappointing third place as a late season resurgence fell way short.

In 2002 after pitching just one game (0.2 innings) he was traded to the Montreal Expos along with Dicky Gonzalez, for Scott Strickland, Phil Seibel, and Matt Watson.  

Chen became a journeyman pitcher, moving on to the Cincinnati Reds (2002) Houston Astros (2003), Boston Red Sox (2003) Texas Rangers (2007) Baltimore Orioles (2004-2006) & Kansas City Royals (2009-2012).

In Baltimore with the Orioles Chen had his best season in 2005 going 13-10 posting a 3.83 ERA with 133 strikeouts in 197 innings pitched, all career highs.  

After pitching for Panama in the 2006 World Baseball Classic, he fell to a disappointing 0-7 season with the Orioles. Chen’s biggest problem was giving the long balls; he is 191st all time in serving up HRs with 207. In 2005 & 2006 he allowed 61 HRs, and was in the top ten in the HRs allowed category both seasons. Chen found a new home in Kansas City pitching there now for five seasons through May 2013.

In 2010 the journey man pitcher had a decent season in Kansas City going 12-7 with one save & a 4.17 ERA. He posted back to back 12 win seasons (2010 & 2011) with the Royals & went on to lead the club in wins three straight seasons.

In 2012 he went 11-14 leading the league in starts with 34. He struck out 140 batters & walked just 47 in 191 innings pitched with a 5.07 ERA. In 2013 Chen was tied for third on the Royals staff with nine wins (9-4) He started 15 games but appeared in 34, posting a 2.27 ERA, he struck out 78 batters in 121 innings with 36 walks. 

At age 36 Chen is in his sixth year with the Royals in 2014. In four starts in April he was 1-2 with a 7.25 ERA getting demoted to AAA Omaha at the end of April.

In his 16 year career he is 81-78 with one save, 1118 strike outs & 536 walks in 1497 innings pitched in 389 career games with a 4.53 ERA (through May 2014).

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