The obvious question on the mind of most Yankees fans after last night’s performance regards the fate of Chien-Ming Wang. Should the Yankees give him another chance, send him to the bullpen, or DL him with another mysterious injury? Let’s here what the local media thinks, and then I will chime in.
From Bryan Hoch:
If I had to guess right now, I’d say the odds are 50-50. Think the Yankees aren’t confused? Check out this honest admission from Girardi, which he dropped after most of the reporters had left the room:
“Everyone kept asking, ‘When are you going to put him in the rotation? Hasn’t he shown you enough to put him in the rotation?’” Girardi said. “Now I’ve put him in the rotation, he struggles twice, and people are saying, ‘Why’d you put him in the rotation?’ He was pitching well, so we thought he was ready to go.”
What’s the problem, anyway? Dave Eiland said that Wang’s arm slot is all over the place and that he’s not able to take his bullpens out to the mound. Eiland seems a little perplexed by this, and even though he admits Wang isn’t back to where he was pre-injury in 2008, he says he’s convinced Wang is healthy enough to pitch in the big leagues. But he can’t command his pitches — he missed a lot low in the zone tonight — and that’s killing him.
“He’s got to take it out there with him,” Eiland said. “I can’t stand there behind the mound with him during the game.”
Wang’s next turn would come against the Nationals. In case you haven’t been following them closely, they don’t have the best record in the AL. They have the worst record in the majors. If the Yankees actually believe that Wang is capable of returning to his old form – and they all claim that they do – then how do you not give him the opportunity to pitch against the worst team in baseball after throwing him back out there against two of the best? Does that seem fair?
If Wang gets the ball on Tuesday and gets rocked by Washington, I would be the first one to send him to the bullpen or the disabled list. But to yank him from the rotation before a game in which he has a decent chance of succeeding and building his confidence would be a ridiculous move. If they do that, they might as well trade him, because it will be painfully obvious that they have no faith in him ever regaining his 19-game form.
And Ken Davidoff:
The Yankees, constructed very much to win this year, can’t afford to start Wang not knowing what he’ll give them. Hughes, who pitched a solid 32/3 innings of relief last night, is still growing. But at least he’s growing, rather than shrinking before our eyes.
See what Wang can do as a reliever; he put up far better numbers in that role, even if they weren’t wonderful…..
It’s all a bit mind-blowing. Before Wang suffered his freakish, season-ending right foot injury on June 16 of last year, the baseball industry regarded him as one of the finest young pitchers in the game.
Of course, many of us suspected at the time that it was a mirage. Wang’s ground-ball rate decreased steadily from 63.7 percent in 2005 to 55 percent last year, and he entered last night with a 45.2 percent count before recording three ground-ball outs and two grounder hits.
Firstly, Davidoff patting himself on the back about having believed Wang to be a mirage is silly. While most sabermetricians originally believed that Wang was due for a crash, they eventually came to accept him as an outlier, as 4 seasons is a large enough sample to suggest that he can get outs without striking people out. Furthermore, Davidoff neglects to mention that the GB rate went down in direct proportion with the K rate going up, as Wang added a slider so as to add some variety to his repertoire. The reduced number of grouders were by design.
In regard to the current situation, I agree with Feinsand. Wang should get one more start, coming next week against Washington. The Nats are a good enough offensive team that the results would be meaningful, while a poor enough pitching team to allow the Yankees to stay in the game should Wang fail. If he does fail, I think the Yankees need to find another injury and send him to the minors to figure things out while pitching every five days. His stuff seems to be returning, with the problem being one of location. He needs innings to get his mechanics back on track, something unlikely to happen if he is coming out of the bullpen in the majors.
What do you think the Yankees should do with Wang?
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