Wang, the quiet ace, emerges yet again

Calm before the playoff storm
Enough with the stupid squirrel already

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.

Calm before the playoff storm
Enough with the stupid squirrel already
  • Joseph P.

    Sadly, though, he left in the 8th because of tightness in his back. He’s not going to pitch for another six days, so hopefully he’ll be 100 percent again by then.

    • Ben K.

      All the reports say he’s fine. He tightened up after the long bottom of the 7th. I’m not concerned.

  • Dave

    Next years rotation of Wang, Pettite, Hughes, Chamberlain and Kennedy will be a pleasure to watch…

    • NYFan50

      You seem to have a lot of faith that Mussina will either be permanently demoted or retire.

      As much as we might want to see Hughes, Chamberlain and Kennedy in the rotation, do you really think the Yankees are going to let all 3 of them start next year in the rotation? I doubt it.

      • Ben K.

        As the Yanks have shown this year, they aren’t going to let Mussina start unless he’s pitching well. It’s much better for the Yanks to waste the money on Moose than it is for them to waste wins and losses on an over-the-hill pitcher.

        • NYFan50

          Ben – hey, I’d love to believe it. But a temporary demotion does not a full-time reliever make. I’d be very surprised if they were willing to throw Kennedy, Hughes and Chamberlain out there in the rotation next year unless they had no alternative. I am as high on these guys as anybody, but I just don’t see it happening.

  • paul albany

    this teams inconsistances drive me nuts, but tonight was a good win we are something like 10-1 when pettite or wang pitches and 3-10 from other starters

  • Count Zero

    “the quiet ace” is an excellent description.

  • Mike A.

    If he didn’t miss those 4 starts at the beginning of the year, he’d probably already have 20 wins & be the frontrunner for the Cy.

  • Patrick

    I love it, too. (His performance, I mean. :)) These last 3 starts, he’s stepped it up, yet again, against 3 very good teams (Mariners, Red Sox, Tigers). 22.1 IP, 11 H, 3 R and 2 ER in those games. The only numbers that really matter are IP and ER. Great performer, no mouth, no antics. What can you say… he’s awesome.

  • Wordekemper = Wizard

    Thanks for this post. I think the instant success Wang had with the Yankees has always been a strange and wonderful story, but his continued progression into 2nd place Cy-vote-getter and now into that exact position this year, all the while pitching big in big games for the Yanks, is a much bigger story even yet. This guy was an 11th-best prospect for us, or something like that, just prior to his debut. That’s why I was optimistic early this year when we were rolling guys like Wright and Karstens out there above Hughes; we have a lot of potentially special players in our pitching future. Where would we be without Wang? I don’t want to go there….
    As for Chamberlain, Kennedy, and Hughes all in the rotation next year, it’ll definitely happen, just maybe not right out of the gate.

  • bam bam

    how do increased strikeouts lead to a lower GB:FB ratio? it isn’t GB:out raito.

    • Ben K.

      Fewer balls in play; fewer ground balls.

      • Mike A.

        In theory though, the rate should be about the same. The number of GBs & FBs will just go down with more Ks, the rate shouldn’t change.

        • Adam

          That is assuming he is throwing the sinker for the increased strikeouts. But instead the strikeouts are increasing because he’s thrown the slider a bit more when the situation calls for it. That leads to an increased chance of strikeouts, but also an increased chance of flyballs.

  • steve (different one)

    fewer fly balls too.

  • Formosa

    ……….Chien-Ming Wang, the ace of the Yankees, is pitching that way tonight. He has scattered five singles in seven innings, struck out six and walked one. He hasn’t been brilliant, but he has been plenty good on a night when the Yankees needed it………………………………..Peter Abraham

    People always forget about the good times when they are in bad, and lose all the memory of bad times in good. We like to forget Wang has only pitched one full season in the big. More than two months spent on the DL in his first year, began on the DL nursing his injuried groin this year, and not to mentioned he had a major surgery in the minor that set his progress back for a few years. But, he is 43 and 12 (and counting), being set up as the ace of the staff, and started an playoff game in his first major league year. If rot sets in with bruise, what about the other way around.

    Unfortunately, Wang didn’t grow up with a silver spoon fed to him, nor he was blessed with an arm like Joba, Clemen, or ………. And, more unfortunately, he BOUGHT in this crap about being the ace in the toughtest crwod with the shortest fuse in America.

    Fortunately, like a lot of sinker baller, he walks his path the old fashion way. Work the count, not allow many home runs, and get people out with a collective effort. Kind of like a lot of average Joe(s) watching the game. We ain’t gonna be named in the Fortune 500 or being televised as a role model in the spot light, but we just do our part in life even if we are just these tiny little screws in this big machine named society.

    Wang is that way, too. He isn’t a dominating pitcher on the mount but I like to watch him pitch not because he blows hitters away but because he pitches as we live our life: not always perfect with sunshine on his ass but with twists and bumps, like in life, that keep your eyes grew to the television, to the team, and to this game call baseball.

    So therefore, just leave him alone with this and that, people need time (and hard works) to develop into who they really are, ace or not.

    I think Tiger woods (reminiscent back to 1997~1999) would agree on that note, too.

  • Bart

    Wang – Yankee Ace

    One pitch outs are always better that Ks unless they allow a runner to score
    — better than stike outs – which take three piches or more
    — saves wear and tear on the arm = more innings ove a lifetime and more effective innings —

    Ground balls are nearly always not good if you have a slow/poor range defense

    Ground balls are always bad if you pay on astroturf –see Wang’s small sample ERA at Totonto — andhave a slow/poor range infield (and don’t have brains enough to play deeper)

    What makes a K pictcher effective — velocity, movement, location, deception

    –What make Wang effective — velocity, movement, location, deception,

    — Due to the location, break of his hard sinker right hand hitters can get to the top of the ball (as oposed to a swing and miss) — especially so in a 2 strike protect mode — but those protect swings don’t do much damage
    — left handed hitters can poke it
    — But only mistakes up in the zone and middle-in can be mashed — and 2 strike swings are often not in the mash mode

    — as longe as iWand has power sinker , maintains location, and mantains a certain amount of deception he will be INORDINATELY effective — better than Tommy John

    — On a staff as the Yankees will have with Joba, IPK (props), the Franchise, and maybe Pettit for a year they will provide the opposition a different look starter to starter — and thereby help reinforce each other

    — Intangible — it may be mentally / emotionally hard to aspire to be “better than Clemens” and have to watch himin his decline. It is (I believe) much easier to try (teammate competition) to equal or better Wang
    — if the Young Guns can walk that talk they can be something special both individually and as a unit
    — and unlike the other MLB franchisess the Yankees can afford to keep them all if they prove out

    —- Question– Santana could be available what package doy ou put togehter as GM to lock up that deal — no pussyfooting

    —- Andy Philips — can anyone nicer have worse luck?? Light a candle for him.