The Wang Elevation

Instant Analysis: No release for Wang
Another day, another win for Scranton

Chien-Ming Wang Pitch Elevation(click graph for a larger view)

We’ve already taken in-depth looks at how much different Chien-Ming Wang’s stuff and release points are this year compared to last year, but I wanted to take a look something Wang usually excels at: keeping the ball down. The above graph shows what percentage of Wang’s sinkers (sinkers only since that’s his break and butter) ended up in five different sections of the strike zone (data from Pitch f/x). Pitches marked “High” and “Low” are out of the zone, while the actual strike zone is cut up into equal thirds dubbed “Up,” “Middle,” and “Down.” The thick black lines denote the top and bottom of the strike zone, if it wasn’t obvious enough.

It’s easy to see what made Wang so effective last year; 41.4% of his pitches were in the bottom third of the strike zone or lower, and 68.9% of his pitches were in the middle third or lower. This year though, it’s a much different story. Just 32.3% of his pitches are in the bottom third or lower, and only 57.5% were at or below the middle third of the strike zone. Even more troubling is that 28.4% of Wang’s pitches this year are in the upper third of the zone, and that means that those pitches are belt high based on how umpires call the game these days.

When you’ve lost movement and velocity from your sinker over the winter and groove more than a quarter of your pitchers into the hitter’s happy zone, you’re going to get pounded like Wang has. He’s allowed 29 base runners and 23 earned runs in just six (!!!) innings pitched this season. The dude’s rocking a 34.50 ERA and a 4.83 WHIP for chrissakes. It would take five consecutive complete game shutouts for the Wanger to lower his ERA to a respectable 4.06, and two consecutive perfect games to get his WHIP back around to his career average.

As Ben mentioned earlier, the Yanks have the option of skipping Wang’s next start on Thursday thanks to the off day, and letting him work on whatever he needs to during the ten day break. In fact, I’ll say that it’s more than likely that the Yanks will go that route. If Wang doesn’t get himself sorted out in that time, then they need to start looking for other solutions, especially since everyone claims he’s not hurt. It won’t stay April forever.

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Instant Analysis: No release for Wang
Another day, another win for Scranton
  • Drew

    I’m just hoping that all of this is due to the fact that Chien’s arm is just too rested. He’s always been up in the zone when this was the case.

  • Spaceman.Spiff

    Wow, 5 consecutive shutouts? I guess you really can ruin your season numbers in April if you try hard enough.

    • http://www.theyankeeuniverse.com/ Artist formerly known as ‘The’ Steve

      Its fun to kick around those numbers, but really, who cares. If he straightened himself out and pitched from here on to his career averages, nobody will care if his ERA winds up around 5 at the end of the year. Just get back on track, that’s the main thing.

      • Joey H

        As the old adage goes, “It’s not how you start it’s how you finish.”

      • Drew

        Bottom line, a good ERA is always great but he’s only 0-3, in three months he can be 11-6. I may be the only one, but I’m not freaking out over Wanger, I have to assume he’ll find it, sooner than later.

      • Steve H

        Much like Lowe in 2004. 5.42 ERA in the regular season was wiped away by how he dominated in the playoffs (after sucking down the stretch).

        • Joey H

          Ha. I didn’t even want to think of “sucking down the stretch” yet lol.

      • Accent Shallow

        If Wang pitches 200 more innings at his career averages this year, he’d finish with an ERA of 4.89, and a WHIP of 1.46.

        • Accent Shallow

          Also, in order to reach his career averages, he’d need to pitch 200 innings at a 3.06 ERA, and a 1.21 WHIP.

  • Joey H

    Thanks for pouring salt on an open wound Mike. lol. Great work. This puts things in perspective. But I have to say. He looks a lot better today than he did in Tampa.

  • Simon B.

    Kevin Devaney, subbing for Fatty Ham, reports that the Yankees can’t demote Wang because he has no more option years left.

    Every time it seems like I’ve figured out how options work, I get confused again. I thought if they don’t option him down (which I don’t believe they have since Wang was promoted in 2005), they would remain until 5 years of service time.

    How do they really work?

    • Spaceman.Spiff

      Can a player voluntarily accept a minor league demotion to work things out?

      • Drew

        I’m pretty sure they need to have 5 years MLB experience before they can accept it.

        • http://www.theyankeeuniverse.com/ Artist formerly known as ‘The’ Steve

          Right, Wang has 4 years according to ESPN.

          But even if he accepted, he’d have to clear waivers. That’s what options are there for. Without them, you get exposed to the waiver wire.

          • Joey H

            So he can’t even just say Okay I’m going down on my own?

            • Drew

              And couldn’t you just circumvent that by saying the guy has a tired arm and DLing him. Then give him a few rehab starts.

              • Joey H

                Alright good. Thanks. As long as it gets done.

                • Drew

                  No, I wasn’t answering your question, I don’t know the answer. I was adding on by saying, if the player couldn’t send himself down, couldn’t you just DL him by saying he had a tired arm.

                • Joey H

                  Oh well then I take my thanks back!!!!11! lol. Nah but I guess they can do it that way. Can’t they?

                • Drew

                  I would think so, I mean Matsuzaka got Dl’d for a dead arm 10 days into the season. I don’t know what kind of rules and limitations there are for rehab starts though.

                • Joey H

                  In all fairness that’s kind of a poor comparison because the situations are different. I’m sure that DL’ing was more or less to get K some rest.

            • Phrancis

              Well..Dontrel Willis got DLed for anxiety attacks. Why can’t the yanks do the same.

      • http://www.theyankeeuniverse.com/ Artist formerly known as ‘The’ Steve

        No, he’d have to clear waivers. As bad as he’s been, Wang won’t clear waivers, someone will claim him.

        • Tom Zig

          Does he have any options left?

          • http://www.theyankeeuniverse.com/ Artist formerly known as ‘The’ Steve

            Nope.

  • toad

    I actually don’t believe he’s not hurt.

    Just my opinion.

    • http://www.theyankeeuniverse.com/ Artist formerly known as ‘The’ Steve

      Did you hurt your finger typing that?

      • http://www.freewebs.com/ps3tf2/ Double-J

        I don’t know about his finger, but it hurt my brain…

  • shammy

    With Joba and Wang this team really needs a mule in the pen they can run out there just to eat up innings. Who can they put in this role, whatever happened to Humberto Sanchez?

    • Drew

      I don’t know why the hell we have Tomko. I guess we just want to hype him up by placing him in the pen in AAA.

      • Joey H

        Tricky situation with him not being on the 40 man. But I agree with you on all cylinders.

    • Joey H

      I wouldn’t worry about Joba. NO calls went his way yesterday. And over the course of a season there will be days like that.

    • Accent Shallow

      I believe Sanchez is in extended ST.

  • Big Mike

    Wang just needs to disappear to the minors for awhile. He clearly does not have the same zip on his pitches and his sinker is nonexistent.

    I like the idea of skipping his next start and then bringing Hughes up.

    Girardi just can’t pitch this guy again until he sees that velocity come back and his sinker moving like it used to. The guy is nothing more than a batting pratice pitcher at the moment.

    We can specualte all we want on why he has lost these two things, but I’m not sure we will ever find out.

    I wish Wang all the best and hope he gets everything squared away.

    Lets hope AJ can come up clutch again tomorrow and then the Yanks sweep the A’s.

    • Joey H

      In a perfect world Mike.. In a perfect world.. He needs some strength training for his velocity and needs some highly intense instruction to get his mechanics back in order. Then we got ourselves a perfect CMW!

      • steve (different one)

        i have no idea what they will do with Wang, but i will say this: i think this decision is above Girardi at this point.

  • Joey H

    Hey guys. I know Wang did a ton of bike work and so on and so forth during the off season while rehabbing. But how much arm work did he do?

    • Drew

      That’s what I meant up on the top of this thread. Even before the offseason rehab began, his arm didn’t get the workload that he’s been used to. When he was in a boot, I don’t think he was sitting in a chair throwing. lol

      • Joey H

        Yeah so I guess that solves the velocity dilemma. I’m a firm believer in that the real CMW will return but it’s tough to have patience with a team that has such high expectations.

        • Phrancis

          CC was worse than Wang last year..that’s what I’m banking on.

          • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

            CC was bad last April, but not nearly this bad. He had an 11.54 ERA in 14 IP in his first three starts. That ERA is more than 20 runs better than Wang’s in 8 more innings.

            • Joey H

              Beat me to it. Not to mention that he wasn’t coming off a major injury. Or that is a totally different pitcher than CMW.

          • Joey H

            Not nearly as bad. He was terrible in 5.1 or whatever innings pitched. Not 1.1 . He’ll be back in due time.

  • Drew

    DotF, Ed Nunez had another error today! Wtf? This dude has an error everyday it seems.

  • DP

    What an awesome game to go to!

    • steve (different one)

      i know. i went.

      stadium is amazing BTW.

  • Zach

    Who gets Wang’s next start, Hughes or Kennedy?

    • Drew

      Everyone is banking on Phil. Assuming Wanger doesn’t go again.

    • Joey H

      Probably will get skipped. Which is probably the best thing. Why throw either of the next best options into a huge fire that is the Red Sox?

    • Spaceman.Spiff

      Should skip him next start and reevaluate then. Maybe IPK throws another gem down in AAA, maybe Hughes does, maybe Girardi feels the next start is a good place for CMW to try and get back on track due to promising bullpen sessions ironing out mechanics. We can sit on this a little before we make a call.

  • Willy

    I don’t understand how everyone jumps on Wang about his velocity after a season ending injury last year, but when Joba is in the same boat yesterday everyone says it’s the beginning of the year.

    • Drew

      In fairness, I don’t think anyone knows what the hell to say or think about Chien.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=15305165&ref=profile Doug

        If you’re trying to refer to him by his given name, it’s the full “Chien-ming.”

        “Ming” is not a middle name, or part of his last name.

        • Drew

          And his last name isn’t Wanger, what’s your point?

    • steve (different one)

      uhh, Joba didn’t start the worst inning in franchise history.

      big difference b/w being “a little off” like Joba was and “the worst pitcher ever” like CMW has been.

      i am a big Wang fan, but i am at a loss right now.

      • http://bigbluepinstripes.blogspot.com/ LB

        I don’t know what to think regarding Wang either. This is all very distressing.

      • http://mantisfists.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/julius-carry-aka-shonuff.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        “i am a big Wang fan”

        That’s what SHE said.

        Hi-ohhhhhhhhh. Tough room.

  • Willy

    This is true, I certainly have no idea how to fix him.

  • Big Mike

    Willy

    Joba has had a very nice outing against the Royals. Wanger has had nothing that even resembles a mediocre outing, let alone a good one.

    Joba’s problem yesterday was walks. That is certainly easier to fix than velocity and the redevelopment of a sinker.

    I am comfortable with where Joba is at as a 5th starter for the Yankees. I think he will be fine.

    I am very, very uncomfortable even seeing Wang in pinstripes right now.

    Lets all hope he can get his act together down in Scranton. If not, Hughes is going to have to strap on his big boy shoes and pony up or Cashman will have to work another miracle trade for someone to eat up innings like Ponson did last year.

    • Joey H

      Not to mention Joba was getting squeezed by the umpires.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=15305165&ref=profile Doug

      Let’s hope it doesn’t come to a miracle trade to get someone like Sir Sidney. That would be hitting rock bottom.

  • Big Mike

    I’m looking at Ian Kennedy’s minor league stats and it just boggles my mind how he wasn’t effective for the Yankees.

    I would be really hesitant to call him up, but the way he pitched last year in the minors and the start he is off to this year it is hard to overlook him.

    However, I certainly remember cursing at the television last year when Kennedy was pitching just like I am doing now with Wang.

    • Joey H

      Boggles your mind? Why don’t people understand that great minor league success doesn’t always translate into good ML numbers

  • Joseph M

    The first thing, Wang must be pulled from his next start. Anyone who thinks this can be fixed in a bullpen session or two is not paying attention. Something is wrong here, something is definitely wrong. Wang has had three starts, the first one was bad, the second much worse and the third horrific.

    From what’s been posted so far it appears that the Yanks can’t send him down to the minors, however I seem to remember Dontrelle Willis going down last year (not that it did any good) but he needed to consent to the demotion. Whatever, this is not something that can be worked out between starts or working mop up, if he can’t be sent down then the Yanks are going to have to DL him and try to fix him at the Tampa compound.

    As we enter April 19, 2009, Wang is not a major league pitcher, and that is the plain and simple fact.

    • The new Yankee Stadium sucks

      Dontrelle cleared waivers because of his contract…nobody wanted a 3 year 30 million dollar project. Wang is a different story at 1 year and 5 million, no chance he clears. Whether or not he’d accept the assignment is meaningless, a team like washington or baltimore would claim him in a heartbeat.

  • Drew

    T-Claggs really got the screwgie today. Poor guy

  • http://www.replacementlevel.com/index.php/RLYW/comments/longest_streak_with_er7_from_1954_to_2009 Accent Shallow

    According to RLYW (link above), Wang has the worst ERA for any starter in the Retrosheet era over any stretch of three starts.

  • Drew

    Damn Lidell got beastified buy Shogun. Chuck has got to retire.

  • jim p

    MLB network had photos of Wang last April and this in his windup. Last year he was standing up straight, his left knee went up past his belt, and he had his hands close to his body.

    This year his posture looks like an “s”, his left leg goes nowhere near his belt, and his hands are loose. (I may have reversed the hands positions, btw.)

    What this means, the reporters said, is that his ball doesn’t come down at the batter. It’s coming in on a more horizontal plane. “Negates the advantage of the raised mound,” said one.

    The speculated the reason his posture has changed is either because he is protecting his bad foot, or it’s still bad. Looking at it, I thought his back might be hurting.

    If you catch it, it’s pretty convincing when you see the difference in the photos.

  • claybeez

    Caught that. It was a striking visual. I’m not sophisticated enough to judge their analysis, but you could imagine how the change would affect his delivery and the much discussed released point. Sure hope Eiland is on top of this one.

  • Joseph M

    The MLB network film and comments seem to confirm that he may have a health issue and may need more time before coming back. He can’t help the team right now so they might as well shut him down. Honestly he may need a few months before he’s ready to begin rehab.

  • http://8thinning.blogspot.com VO

    I did a little research from Wang’s starts this year and last year and in a simple video by looking closely you can tell the difference. Check it out http://8thinning.blogspot.com/.....-wang.html

  • Zack

    I dont know his stats from ST but he obviously was better then this- what changed between March and April?

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