Instant Analysis: No release for Wang


Chien-Ming Wang just wrapped up his third start of the year, and for the second time this season, the Yanks’ erstwhile ace failed to make it to the third inning. Joe Girardi yanked him with one out in the second inning, and I would be surprised to see Wang make his next start.

On the season, Wang has now gone six innings and has allowed 23 earned runs. He has given up 23 hits and has just two strike outs on the season. His sinker is flat; his slider isn’t doing much; and his velocity is down to the low 90s.

For the Yankees, this turn of events is fairly shocking. Wang won 19 games in both 2006 and 2007 and had eight victories in 2008 before going down with a foot injury. The Yankees now look prescient in not locking Wang up to the a long-deal, but the fact remains that the team needs Wang to right his sinking ship this year.

We ask again then what is wrong with Chien-Ming Wang? We again turn to Wang’s release point.


This table highlights two of Wang’s better games and two of his worst games. The July 30, 2007 appearance was a one-hitter in Boston; the June 10, 2008 series was a ground ball fiesta in Oakland shortly before Wang went down last year; the two April starts are the two most recent debacles.

Basically, Wang’s arm slot is all over the place this year. In 2007, Wang was throwing from a lower slot, and he had far more sink and velocity on his pitches. Last year, something of a down year for Wang prior to the injury, he was throwing from a consistently higher slot than in 2007. This year, he’s throwing over his body. He’s coming up and out when he shouldn’t be.

The bigger question though — and the one I can’t really answer — is the why of it. Is his arm hurt? Is he putting pressure on his shoulder to compensate for another aching body part? Is he just struggling mightily to find his release point? Those are questions that Dave Eiland and the Yanks’ pitching staff have to answer.

For now, I’m not quite sure what to make of this. The Yankees cannot really in good conscience send Wang out there to face the Red Sox in Fenway next Friday, but can they risk tossing Phil Hughes into the fire for his first start of 2009? With an off-day on Thursday, the team could also just skip Wang’s start, keep Hughes at AAA and hope that a few weeks of work can solve the sinker-ball specialist’s problems. We’ll find out soon how the Yankees are going to proceed, but right now, things are not looking up for Chien-Ming Wang.

Categories : Analysis, Game Stories


  1. Drew says:

    “sinking ship” Well written Ben.
    I agree we could just skip his start. In the past though, extra rest has hurt Wang. I suppose though, in this situation, he can’t get worse.

  2. bob says:

    the fight in the right field grandstand was the most exciting thing all day. plus the ” we want swisher chants”. embarrassing game. but AJ salvages series tomorrow im betting

  3. Muel says:

    Throw hughes in there. It’s not like the boston offense has been on a tear. Further, if he were to pitch well against boston, it would boost his confidence more than a poor outing would hurt it. That’s my theory.

  4. Drew says:

    I don’t know why we all assume Hughes is the man that gets the call.

    • Joey H says:

      Um maybe because he has been called the team’s 6th starter.

      • Drew says:

        By who, the media? I didn’t know there was such thing. I guess stats are pointless.

        • Will says:

          What’s wrong with his stats?

          • Drew says:

            I mentioned it a couple posts down. His stats are terrific thus far. Ian’s are better though.

            • Will says:

              Thus far in AAA? Talk about a small sample size.

              • Drew says:

                Well, I went back to last year as well. Both of their stats thus far have been quite similar to their stats from a larger MiLB sample size from last year. Either way they’ve both had two solid starts in the season’s infancy.

                • LiveFromNewYork says:

                  I think Ian is more fragile mentally. He can come up to the show when the Yankees don’t need him to be good quite as badly as they need their 5th starter to be right now.

        • Joey H says:

          No by anyone who is competent enough to realize that he is the 6th best option for the starting rotation the way the organization is structured. Let’s not get crazy. He is the team’s 6th starter.

            • Joey H says:

              That makes no sense what so ever. But I think that is what you are trying to achieve by that.

            • NaOH says:

              I’m quite competent, actually.

              Perhaps, but it’s your humility which sets you apart.

              Would you also advocate Igawa before Hughes since his 2008 Scranton numbers were all better in the following categories: Batting Average Against, Hits/9 IP and WHIP?

              I’m not saying the Yankees should make Hughes the first starting pitcher to be called up, but by the logic you’ve used here he should be third one, after Ian Kennedy and Kei Igawa.

              • Drew says:

                Yikes! Not Kei!!
                If someone said that I’d point out to last year’s injury woes as reasoning for the stats. LOL

                • NaOH says:

                  What do injury woes have to do with Igawa’s 2008 Scranton statistics? Based on the logic you used to advocate Kennedy over Hughes, he’s the second-best pitcher to recall when a starter is needed. If your logic is sound, then there’s nothing to debate in what I’ve said here. Or am I dense?

                  Based on your reaction to the idea of Igawa, I can’t help but wonder if there is other things we should be considering when making these types of evaluations? If so, what are these criteria? Likewise, why don’t they apply when just comparing Kennedy and Hughes?

                • Drew says:

                  I was pointing out that Kei was a better pitcher(stats wise) than IPK and Phil because of their injuries.
                  It was a joke. Note: Yikes! Not Kei! also the lol at the end.

                • NaOH says:

                  I was pointing out that Kei was a better pitcher(stats wise) than IPK and Phil because of their injuries.

                  My understanding was Kennnedy and Hughes only pitched at Scranton once their injuries had healed. Apparently I was wrong, and they pitched there while still injured.

                • Drew says:

                  Well there is usually a hang-over effect after healing from injuries. You did read that it was a joke though, right? I was basically saying that no one wants to see Kei and that I would make anything up to impugn a suggestion that Kei is more apt to start over Phil or Ian.

    • Will says:

      What are the other options? IPK? Kei Igawa? Just skip Wang in the rotation and push up everyone else?

      • Joey H says:

        I totally agree but this won’t exactly help Wang. They need to win games AND fix CMW. So I say, he hopefully takes a short voluntary stint in the minors, straightens his shit out and comes back like the real 19 game winning CMW. But for now, let’s just skip his start against the BoSox.

        • Will says:

          I agree with you. I want Hughes too, it makes the most sense. Hughes can pitch the game in Boston, and however many until CMW fixes his stuff. It won’t hurt to have him up in the majors anyway. When they brought him up for the end of 2008 he looked good, so hopefully he can follow in those footsteps.

          • Joey H says:

            Yes and No. What it comes down to is that you want to keep his stamina up and there is no point in wasting him away up here costing us meaningful ball games. The one thing everyone needs to realize is that every game matters. Over the past years we just say AH its only April but those days are gone. Game 15 is just as important as game 161.

    • Who would rather call? Brett Tomko? The ineffective Al Aceves? Hughes is the sixth man in this rotation. There’s little doubt about that.

      He’s also been very solid in two AAA starts this year after a very strong spring.

      • Joey H says:

        Ben, I swear people just throw inane remarks out there to piss everyone else off.

        • Drew says:

          My intention was to piss no one off. Is it really insane to point to stats from a similar sample in comparing two young pitchers? Give me a break.

          • Joey H says:

            No but Me and Ben have had the Kennedy legitimacy debate at least twice before and it got heated but I am willing to bet that if you are going to throw anyone into the fire in a situation like the one standing in their way the man for the job is Hughes and not 88MPH Kennedy. Hughes gives a more, for lack of a better word “strong” feeling going out there. And sure, the media is yes full of shit a lot of the time but they happened to get it right this time around.

            • Drew says:

              Well Kennedy goes over 88. I appreciate you putting some substance out there rather than calling me insane and senseless.

              • Joey H says:

                I don’t know you. You can be a Rhodes Scholar for as much as I know but you aren’t opening up your mind and getting the point. Besides, Kennedy’s average fastball is no more than 88, 89.

                • Spaceman.Spiff says:

                  Fastball mph is not nearly as important as movement and placement. A straight fastball 105 mph down the middle will get hit for a home run more often than a well placed 87 mph fastball on the corners. I’m not saying Kennedy should get the start over Phil because I would probably send Phil up before Ian too but to base your entire argument calling him 88mph kennedy shows your complete ignorance of what makes a good pitcher.

                • Joey H says:

                  Ok then so when he is so concerned with nibbling at the corners? You clearly don’t know anything. I’m not saying he’ll never be good but he has NO secondary pitch. Thats right NO secondary pitch. He “has” a curve ball but how many times did he throw it last year? And don’t just make it up to counter what I am saying, He never threw it last year. He was strictly change up Fastball. So you can try to make an argument of something that wasn’t at question or you can actually read over what I’ve said this whole thread and understand it. Please don’t try to start fights. And if you do at least make it over something relevant.

                • NaOH says:

                  I’ve read over everything you’ve written in this thread, and I can’t for the life of me determine why you would speak to people hear like you did with the following lines:

                  “I’m starting to think you are quite dense.”

                  “You clearly don’t know anything.”

                • Spaceman.Spiff says:

                  I’m done with Joey H. He thinks everyone is trying to start fights with him when he comes at everyone with insulting lines like everyone is stupid.

                • Joey H says:

                  Anyway. Maybe you just don’t quite get reasonable perspectives. You came in during the middle of a conversation. Chances are you are from LoHud. So you get a free pass.

                • Joey H says:

                  Oh and the “Quite dense thing” Is Drew’s.

                • Drew says:

                  ..lol and Spaceman is always here.
                  BTW you were the latter of those quotes!

                • Spaceman.Spiff says:

                  Lol, I must be from LoHud. Okay Joey H. I said you were incorrectly basing Ian Kennedy’s inability to pitch in the majors on his 88MPH fastball. That’s not the reason why he hasn’t had success in the majors, it’s much more the over-nibbling, the lack of confidence in his curve, and the hitters laying off his change. But no of course, I clearly don’t know anything.

  5. Joey H says:

    We almost have to skip his start against the Sox.

  6. GG says:

    sick the mexican gangster on em

  7. Accent Shallow says:

    At this point, I’d skip his start and have him work out of the pen in a low pressure situation once or twice before his next start.

    • Joey H says:

      The thing is that he has tried this already. See I think a lot of this can be attributed to the Umps not exactly helping him out either. There were a few pitches he threw early on before he got spanked where I found myself yelling GOOD PITCH THERE WE GO. One resulted in a ground ball up the middle but anything he threw a borderline pitch that didn’t go his way the next one was a meatball up and right over the middle of the plate. So not only is he suffering, mechanically and with his velocity and confidence, he’s getting squeezed by the umpires.

      • Accent Shallow says:

        You misunderstand. I meant if they’re going to skip his start, he should pitch in relief in a low pressure situation, i.e. up or down 5+ runs.

        • Joey H says:

          And what does that solve Shallow? I get the direction you are going in but Pressure isn’t the top prioritized problem with CMW. It’s his mechanics, velocity and then confidence. If you do this that early on in the season you totally mess up his whole mental make up. See: Joba Chamberlain ’08.

          • Accent Shallow says:

            The party line from the Yankees is that Wang’s side sessions have looked good, but he hasn’t been able to translate that into game situations. Maybe working out of the pen in a low leverage situation would make it easier to do so.

            I’m not saying that that should be the plan of action, but it’s an option I like more than throwing him on the DL and shipping him to Tampa. (Of course, if he goes out in relief and puts up an inning like today’s 2nd inning, they will DL him and ship him to Tampa)

            I just hope that they can get him straightened out ASAP, because unless Hughes has taken a big step forward, this team is much stronger with (good) Wang in the rotation.

            • Joey H says:

              Well then we are at odds right there. I would love for him to jump on the bus for Scranton voluntarily giving Hughes or whomever a chance at being more effective. And the thing is that there really is no difference where he is going to pitch because he isn’t right. He needs some hardcore instruction drilled into his head to right him. Maybe some more upper body strength exercises so he can get some velocity back.

  8. Stephen says:

    Wow! What a blowout! Unbelievable! I can just imagine the frustration and anger that George Steinbrenner and other members of the Yankee family, including their players, staff and fans, must feel about the mediocre start that the team is having. As a fan, I’m outraged that Cashman, Girardi and other members of the Yankee brain trust couldn’t forsee that the Yankees might have problems with Wang, Chamberlain and their bullpen filled with a bunch of non-producing millionaires who stink up the house. There are no easy answers to their pitching problems, and I think that neither their farm system or reaching into the pockets of other teams for hurlers will be solved during this year. It would be absurd to write off the team for this season, but what the hell will make it right?

  9. Drew says:

    Since Wanger has been a stinker, here’s a little analysis on Ian vs. Philly.
    Ian last year in Milb: .198 Avg against
    This year: .200 “..”
    Philly last year:.259 Avg against.
    This year: .244″.. “

    • So what you’re saying — if you’re replying to the thread above (and please do use the reply button) — is that you’d rather have Kennedy start over Hughes? And your basis for that conclusion is batting average against?

      You might be the only Yankee fan to feel that way.

      • Drew says:

        Not just BAA, K/9, his BB/9 rate is also down, I don’t know much about BaBip.. Believe me, all last year I was kind of pissed at IPK for several reasons. I’m just trying to point out that IMO it’s not written in stone that it’s Philly who would get the call.

        • When Joe Girardi said at the end of Spring Training that Hughes would probably be the first to get the call if the Yanks need the help, it was pretty much all but written into stone.

          • Drew says:

            I understand that, I also agree that he would most likely get the first shot if we called on someone. Hypothetically though, if Hughes threw out a “Wanger” yesterday, would you still be so sure?

            • LiveFromNewYork says:

              I said this above but I think that Phil is better suited (mentally and personality wise) to be called up in what is now a pressure situation. Pressure to be good. I don’t know if Ian could or should be the one to come up.

              • Drew says:

                True, Phil definitely has the mentality and the stuff to succeed up here. Imagine if he gets the call, then succeeds and goes up and in on Youkilis! That would be epic.

    • Accent Shallow says:

      Yeah, Kennedy has been awesome in the minors. However:

      a) Hughes has significantly better stuff
      b) Hughes has been no slouch himself in the minors
      c) Hughes has had more major league success

      I’m certainly not ready to give up on Kennedy, but there’s no reason for him to get the call over Hughes at this point.

      • Drew says:

        At least someone gives a reasonable answer. I agree Hughes has been great in the minors, just slightly less dominant than IPK.

        • And their Major League numbers aren’t comparable at all though. Hughes has been a better MLB pitcher than Kennedy in more innings.

          • Joey H says:

            *ZOOOOOOM* And the point passes him by. People just can’t.. Agh never mind.

            • Drew says:

              Seriously, stop with your condescending remarks. You really are getting annoying.

              • Joey H says:

                I’m not. You are the one who basically looked for every comment I posted on the game thread and picked it apart. So please. Besides, I usually don’t look at who the comment is for until after I post it. In this case you just refuse to see the point.

                • Drew says:

                  I see the point completely, you don’t accept that I put out stats to provide reasoning behind my statement. As for the game thread, we were on the same page with Melky, Matsui and Tomko/longman. I’m not sure you checked the name when someone agreed with you, bud.

                • Joey H says:

                  There were some times you did and some times you didn’t. Not everyone is going to agree with you but when it becomes deliberate like it was, and it wasn’t only you it gets annoying after a while. So when you make a Weird(to be nice) point I have to go hard proving you wrong. But like i said its not just you, it looks like there was a large LoHud spill over during my commenting absence from here.

                • Drew says:

                  That is fine, if you thought it was weird to point out that someone has been clearly “better” in the minors then we can agree to disagree. Where you get off insulting someone on a computer, who by the way backed up their statements with some type of substance, I have no idea.

                • Joey H says:

                  Insult is depended on interpretation. Guys who are par in the minors sometimes turn out to be great in the ML’s. Wang is a good example of that. And thus far, Kennedy has been great in the minors but has stunk it up with the exception of Sept’07

          • Drew says:

            That is agreed. I just like to play devil’s advocate sometimes. We all love Hughes while Ian has rubbed most of us the wrong way. I still think both of them will be solid in the bigs and am looking forward to seeing them again, eventually.

          • Chris says:

            Their major league numbers are actually pretty similar.

            ERA: 5.15 Hughes/6.14 Kennedy
            WHIP: 1.42/1.67
            HR/9: 0.9/0.9
            BB/9: 3.7/5.4
            K/9: 6.8/6.4

            Hughes is better, but not by a whole lot. It’s sort of like comparing Livan Hernandez and Sidney Ponson.

            • Drew says:

              Hughes does have a larger sample size.. Last year was a wash though.

              • Joey H says:

                How about the effective start he made I think against Toronto where he struck out 6 or 8. He had incredible stuff that day. His last stint was much better than Kennedy’s. So I guess you can say maybe early on there was a lot of pressure being pretty much inked in as the 4th starter. So this might be a prime opportunity to slide him into the action. Ya digg?

                • Chris says:

                  Here’s another thought… If you call Hughes up and he gets hammered, does that hurt his confidence and development? I would be much more concerned about having his development hampered than Kennedy’s (because Hughes should be more valuable in the long run).

                • Joey H says:

                  Lets not count our eggs before they hatch ok Chris? I get what you are saying but upside is upside and probability is probability. The probability is that Hughes will give us a better start(s) than Kennedy.

      • Joey H says:

        This is the smartest thing I have seen on here ALL day. High five for you. You totally hit the nail right on the head.

    • Chris says:

      The biggest thing going against Kennedy is that he pitched on the 15th. His normal turn would be Monday, so he would have either 3 days rest or 8 going into the Boston game. Hughes would be on 6 days rest. I think the most likely scenario is that they skip his turn in the rotation.

      As for his stats, if you compare Hughes and Kennedy in AAA this year and last, Kennedy is better in every meaningful stat (BB/9, HR/9, WHIP, K/9, K:BB, ERA).

  10. Tom Zig says:

    I suppose Hughes can’t do any worse than Wang. Why not give him a shot. Let Wang figure his stuff out where it doesn’t matter.

  11. Anita says:

    What about bringing Louisiana Lightning back to work with Wang?

    • Joey H says:

      You know what Anita. That isn’t as crazy as it sounds. I am sure he can work on getting a better slider going for him just to have more effective secondary pitches. Too bad there is nobody out there that can teach velocity.

    • LiveFromNewYork says:

      I actually had the same thought today. Eiland was promoted because of the Big Three coming up but I think that Gator should be working with Wang.

  12. p2 says:

    GREAT post!

    Wang’s starts:
    APR 08 @BAL 3.2 innings 9 hits 7 runs
    APR 13 @TB 1 inning 6 hits 8 runs
    APR 18 CLEV 1.1 inning 8 hits 8 runs
    Total ERA: 34.50

    As a fan of his, I’m heartbroken.

    Someone told me some scouts predicted this of his career. Sooner or later his sink would not sink anymore. And his career is done. Can it be?

    • Joey H says:

      I want to talk to these scouts. I want to know if their crystal ball predicted a freak injury which is probably to blame for this whole fiasco in the first place. People don’t realize that this wasn’t just some routine spring training and off season he had.

    • Will says:

      No, Cliff Lee struggled and was sent down to the minors in 2007, look what he did last year. Its 3 bad starts, its easily changeable.

      • Joey H says:

        But did he have an injury that kept him away from a major league mound as CMW? And that little petty abdominal strain or what ever it was doesn’t count. That was only till the end of April or May.

    • Steve H says:

      Why would his sink not sink anymore? Look at the contract Lowe got, who never threw as hard as Wang, and didn’t even have the secondary pitches. It’s mechanics (see graph above). Wanger is not done.

      • p2 says:

        Good point.

      • Chris says:

        At some point you have to wonder whether he’s got (or will get) the ‘thing’. You know, the same thing that killed Rick Ankiel’s pitching career.

        • Steve H says:

          He hasn’t stopped throwing strikes (that would be a good thing). Did Roy Halladay have the ‘thing’ when he put up a 10.64 ERA in 67 innings? For Wanger to match that, he’d have to give up 57 runs in his next 61.6 innings, an ERA of 8.32. His 6 inning sample size is ridiculously small to have any type of concern with the ‘thing’.

  13. I don’t think they’ll call up anyone from AAA just yet. Another option is to have him skip his next start, send him down to Tampa to try another voice, see if Nardi or someone else can reach him.

    The only problem with that is his side sessions have been good here, but the results in-game have been horrendous. So if he goes to Tampa, has a few good bullpens and makes his next start vs Detroit, why should we expect any better results?

  14. As far as who they should call up from Scranton, I would say whoever is throwing the ball the best right now. IPK, Hughes or Aceves. I’d be happy with any one of them.

    And to answer my own question, IPK appears to be throwing the ball the best. But I’d leave it up to Miley and the guys down there.


    • Accent Shallow says:

      I dunno, look at his two games: 11Ks in 6IP in the first one, and 5Ks in 6IP in the second. Not sure I can advocate giving him a start when his K-rate is trending downwards so sharply.

      (Clearly, I’m kidding.)

      Seriously though, the biggest obstacle to Kennedy getting the start in Boston would be what was mentioned upthread: he’d either be on 3 or 8 days rest, whereas Hughes would be on 6.

      • I’m not talking about the Boston start. I think we all agree that Wang will be skipped while they figure out what to do. The next scheduled start for Wang/whoever would be Tuesday, April 28 vs the Tigers in Detroit.

        But again, I send Wang down to Tampa to se if they can reach him, and give him the Detroit start. But that’s his last one if there’s no improvement. After that, I make a change.

    • Drew says:

      Don’t say IPK has been better! You may get served!

  15. Angel says:

    ¨and his velocity is down to the low 90s.¨

    ouch :S

  16. J says:

    this isn’t about wang, but can we put a gb/fb tracker on the brackman watch? im sure a lot of us would appreciate how he’s doing as the season is progressing in regards to the ratio. besides, i’m sure many of us are more focused on k/bb and gb/fb ratios…

  17. J says:

    if wang can never regain his super sink… is it possible to teach him to work with slider, change?

    • Drew says:

      I always thought that with his golden arm, he could also learn a power four seamer. It is way too early to even consider this yet though.

  18. E-ROC says:

    Hopefully, there isn’t anything structurally wrong with Chien-Ming Wang. That would be the worst case scenario. Wang will figure it out.

    • Steve H says:

      Actually, that might be the best case scenario. At the very least it would explain his results, which are primarily due to screwy mechanics. If it’s injury causing those mechanics, once healthy, he can get his correct mechanics back.

  19. LoHud

    “Giving up 23 earned runs in six innings over three starts is beyond struggling, of course. It’s reason to consider a demotion. That, though, is not possible according to Girardi. A team cannot send a player to the minors unless they have options or the player agrees and has at least five years of service. Wang has no options and hasn’t been in the majors long enough.

    Girardi did say that the Yankees will consider skipping Wang’s next start, which is scheduled to be Friday in Boston. The day off on Thursday would enable that.”

    Goes on to say they (Girardi/Eiland) are STILL confident they will figure this out.

    • Joey H says:

      If you think that is bad, you have to see what has been going on over here since I’ve been commenting again. My GOD.

  20. Joey H says:

    Alright, We can sit here and try to make apples out of oranges. Or apples into ducks as Kay would say but the bottom line is that Hughes will most definitely get the call before Kennedy and I’m not going to bother replying to some of these comments because they are too far off base from the issue at hand. And hey, who is to say Wang won’t get another start (Crossed fingers for the contrary).

  21. [...] Confidence Poll « Instant Analysis: No release for Wang Apr [...]

  22. LB says:

    Wang is just painful to watch right now. Phil Hughes, come on down child.

  23. cuponoodles says:

    I feel that this may have something to do with when they tried to change Wang into a ‘K’ pitchr rather than a contact hitter last year. He should just stick to his bread and butter.

  24. [...] we’ve used pitch f/x numbers to show that his pitches aren’t sinking and his release point is off, we don’t need these illuminating features to know what’s wrong with Chien-Ming Wang. [...]

  25. [...] they haven’t really fixed what I think was the problem. In two previous posts here and here, Mike and I examined Wang’s pitch f/x results and determined that his release point was both off [...]

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