We all knew this day would come. At some point, Bruce Chen would no longer be able to lull the opposition to sleep with his assortment of slow curves, slow fastballs and general slow balls. After his excellent performance last year, when he helped rescue the Royals rotation as he went 9-4 with a 3.27 ERA and a 1.182 WHiP, striking out 78 batters. At age 36, Chen put together a career year.
Alas, it turns out that Chen was not able to sustain his momentum from last year. After his excellent first start, Chen struggled through an inflamed disk in his back before spending two months on the disabled list. When he came back, Chen was generally ineffective as the Royals long reliever/spot starter/mop up pitcher, posting a 7.45 ERA and a 1.759 WHiP. The final blow came last night, as Chen was hammered for six runs in the top of the tenth inning in the Royals 11-5 loss to the Minnesota Twins.
Predictably, with the Royals looking to add players to the 25 man roster, the axe fell upon Bruce Chen. Now, the lovable Chen, the master of the slow pitch and perhaps the most entertaining player on the Royals, was designated for assignment yesterday. In his place, the Royals have brought up Louis Coleman from Omaha.
Bruce Chen designated for assignment by #Royals.
— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) August 29, 2014
If this is the end of the line for Chen, as it appears as though it may be, he has had an interesting career. Chen went from a top pitching prospect for the Braves who ranked fourth overall according to Baseball America prior tot he 1999 season to a player who appeared to be on the cusp of being out of baseball a few years later. He went from being compared to Greg Maddux (?!?!) for his approach to pitching to someone who was barely hanging on at the major league level. He had only 35 wins in his ten seasons before undergoing Tommy John surgery to having 47 in the six years afterwards, all with the Royals.
Now, the music has stopped for Chen. No longer will there be Bruce’s Joke of the Day. His smiling, always happy presence will no longer be in the clubhouse, getting after Yordano Ventura and Salvador Perez. The social media questions that the Royals would send to Chen will now go unanswered. This was a day that we knew would happen someday, but that day came upon us quickly.
Farewell, Bruce Chen! We will always remember how you saved the Royals last season, and the joy that you brought to Royals fans everywhere.