Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Through 3 1/2 weeks of the season Chien-Ming Wang has been the worst pitcher in major league baseball. He was so bad that the Yankees basically just told him to go on the Disabled List with "Hip abductor muscle weakness". And by that they mean incredibly bloated ERA.
Last night marked a potential crossroads for Wang. Phil Hughes, the Yankees top prospect, filled in and threw a gem. Hughes last 6 innings, struckout six and gave up just 2 hits and 2 walks total. If Hughes goes out and has a few more solid outings than where does that leave Wang. Hughes is the Yankees top prospect, if he goes out and pitches well, in reality there's no reason the Yankees should take him out of the rotation even if Wang is theoretically back to the 19 game winner of 06-07. Obviously, Burnett and CC aren't going to the bullpen anytime soon. Andy is likely to old and prideful to accept a demotion, and is 2-1 with a 2.96 ERA thus far this season. Thus that leaves either Wang or Joba to be in the pen.
Everyone knows that Joba in his time in the bullpen was amongst the best setup men in baseball but the Yankees have proclaimed him to be an ace of the future. A move back into the pen would signal a retraction of that statement and could signal Joba's permanent move to the pen. The back and forth nonsense the Yankees have put Joba through must stop.
Meanwhile Wang's stuff and career splits scream "Useless in the Bullpen". Why? First off Wang is not a strikeout nor a power pitcher. At best his upside is a Ramiro Mendoza / Justin Masterson type, who comes in with runners on seaking to induce a double play. But his situational stats suggest the worst. Between pitches 0-15 and 15-30 his stats are significantly worse than the rest of his stats with ERAs above 5 in both spots. Some of this is obviously skewed, because if you don't have your stuff and are getting rocked, you probably won't last to your 90th pitch, but still the stats are alarming.
So who would you put in the pen? Joba or Wang?