I love Chien-Ming Wang doubters simply because his success makes their collectives heads explode.
Wang, the devastatingly effective sinkerballer, has one again this year emerged as the ace of a talented and expensive Yankee rotation. After last night’s masterpiece – 7.1 IP, 5 H, 1 ER – Wang is now 17-6 with a 3.69 ERA. As Peter Abraham noted, Wang has become a true Yankee stopper. He is 8-2 in 11 starts following Yankee losses.
But still the doubters counter with his strike-out numbers. He shouldn’t be this good, they say. He struck out one Mariner in 7.1 innings. His season’s K/9 IP stands at a meager 4.51 – a marked increase over last year’s 3.14 number but still a low total. But still, Wang stands tall with 17 wins, first among Major Leaguers. And for good measure, he’s nearly topped his stellar 2006 season after missing his first four starts due to a hamstring injury.
So how does he do it? Well, you and I know it: It’s the groundballs, stupid. Last night’s game showed the beauty of those groundballs. Wang induced 17 groundballs while giving up just three flyballs (and one home run to a righty for just the second time this year). His defense turned three double plays behind him, and the Mariners simply could not deal with his sinker.
I love it. I love how Wang gets one double play every 5.78 innings. I love the 2.69 GB/FB ratio which is lower this year than last because his strike out numbers are mercifully on the rise. I love how opponents have managed to hit just .264/.321/.369 off of Wang this year. And I love how the Yankees will be led by Chien-Ming Wang as he tries to deliver the team to the postseason all while gunning for 20 wins.
Watching young pitchers develop into top-notch starters is one of the sheer pleasures of baseball, and that’s what we’re seeing now in a pitcher who has now won 36 games since April of 2006. That’s what we’re seeing in a pitcher who’s given up 2 ER over his last 22.1 IP. The Ace has definitely arrived.