Remember April? It’s easy to start off an article that way, since things are so vastly different now than they were then. Now Jason Giambi is helping carry this offense. Now Melky Carbera has cooled off, to say the least. And now Chien-Ming Wang is having his bout with ineffectiveness.
During the season’s first month, Wang was 5-0, picking up his sixth win without a loss on May 2. Since then, he’s 0-2, and has seen his ERA balloon from an even 3.00 to 4.57. The “Wang is an ace” crowd was getting rather indignant in April. They’re not quite eating crow yet, but their arrogance was certainly overstated.
According to pitching coach Dave Eiland and catcher Jorge Posada, Wang’s troubles are in the form of a mechanical issue. I’m loathe to write this phrase, since it was also attributed to Randy Johnson when he came to New York, but it appears Wang is “flying open” during his delivery. This leads him to “drop his right elbow and push the ball rather than drive it down. That means no sink on his sinker and a loss of command.”
Posada notes that because he uses different arm angles for his slider and sinker, he’s having trouble moving from the former to the latter. This seems a bit strange to me. If he’s using different arm angles for specific pitches, isn’t that an easy tip to hitters? Then again, that could be another facet of his recent struggles.
So we’re getting less than expected from Pettitte and Wang, and realizing the worst case scenarios from IPK and Hughes. Yes, we’re getting far more than anyone could have expected from Mike Mussina and Darrell Rasner, but that hasn’t quite balanced things out yet. But as the offense returns to its true form, we’re going to rely on these pitchers to drive us a 15th straight playoff appearance.