On the Brian Cashman Ambiguity Meter, this one rates just a 3. It’s pretty clear that Chien-Ming Wang will make at least one more rehab start in Scranton based on this quote (courtesy of the inimitable Chad Jennings):
“I think everybody should assume that we’ll keep going down here unless we decide otherwise,” Cashman said. “So if you want to look for an assumption, that’s the way to go.”
The way the Yanks are going right now, they could sure use a healthy Chien-Ming Wang as a stabilizing force in the rotation. The keyword is healthy, though, and it appears the Yanks are not convinced of that after Wang’s first start in Scranton.
The erstwhile Yanks ace pitched well by all accounts and statistics. As we learned in Down on the Farm, he tossed six innings, 82 pitches, of three-hit ball, striking out six and walking three, while providing a Wangian 7-4 GB/FB ratio. This is the kind of contest I wish I could have watched in condensed format. I wonder how many of those fly ball outs were dinky shots that Wang has induced since coming up with the Yanks in 2005. It’s the skill which separates him from most groundball pitchers: not only do guys beat the ball into the ground, but they generally make poor contact even when they get some lift on it.
Here’s Cashman on the outing:
“He got his work in and I don’t think he was challenged all that much,” Cashman said. “I think he feels real good about the direction he’s heading, and I was glad to be able to say that I do too… He’s definitely heading in the right direction. He’s much better. He had great mound presence, showed some great tempo. Threw strikes. I thought his slider was terrific. He did a great job. I was concerned when he got hit by that line drive on the meat of the calf. I know he took a pretty good shot there, but I was able to talk to our staff in-game. I came out of the stands and we just watched him inning-by-inning after that. As long as his mechanics were good and it wasn’t going to affect him we were going to keep going with him. He got his work in, which was great. Today was a good day.”
Yes, Wang did get drilled in the calf by a liner, but no one thought it a big deal afterward. That includes pitching coach Scott Aldred, who was also impressed by Wang’s slider. As the league has seen more and more of Chien-Ming, his slider has become an important part of his arsenal. Just imagine the damage he could do if he could pull the string once in a while. Mid-90s 4-seamer, low 90s sinker, slider, changeup? Nasty.
The Yanks will likely keep Wang on normal rest, therefore pitching him again on Sunday. Unfortunately, the Yankees do not have much room to maneuver right now. Their next off-day comes on May 28, so the starters will be going in turn until then. That creates an issue, because Wang and Phil Hughes, the man he’d likely replace, are two days apart. If Wang starts on Sunday he won’t be available again until Friday the 22nd. Hughes has starts lining up on the 15th, the 20th, and the 25th. So how would the Yanks work this?
It’s not easy to say, but they could go like this, if they were so inclined (and this is just a for-fun thing):
13th Tor: Pettitte
14th Tor: Sabathia
15th MIN: Hughes
16th MIN: Joba
17th MIN: Burnett (Wang’s AAA start)
18th MIN: Pettitte
19th BAL: Sabathia
20th BAL: Hughes
21st BAL: Joba
22nd PHI: Wang
23rd PHI: Burnett
24th PHI: Pettitte
25th Tex: Sabathia
26th Tex: Joba
27th Tex: Wang
28th Off day
29th Cle: Burnett
30th Cle: Pettitte
31st Cle: Sabathia
1st Cle: Wang
It’s not ideal, in that Burnett will be going on five days’ rest two starts in a row. Perhaps flipping Wang and Burnett on the 22nd and 23rd would alleviate that issue. Feel free to tinker. Any way they shake it out, this should allow the Yanks to put some more space between Joba’s starts, keeping his innings under more control the rest of the way.
So it looks like we’ll see good ol’ CMW against Philadelphia on Memorial Day weekend. Sounds like a plan to me. Hopefully the rotation can stabilize itself a bit by then, and Wang can become the last piece of the pitching puzzle. By that point the team should have a healthy Bruney and Marte, solidifying the bullpen. If Tex and A-Rod are hitting at that point…well, we could be forgetting about the team’s early-season woes.