Is Wang The Answer?
I wanted to respond to a comment left by
"You take the games against the Sox away and this team is actually legit. They are also getting Wang back which sounds like a disaster until you look at what he has been doing on rehab. Absolutely dealing while facing some major league hitters down in Triple AAA. He is even mixing in an increase in K’s which would be huge. To me that means he has got that slider back working to keep hitters honest on his heavy sinker. Slide him (Pun intended) anywhere outside the top 2 in this rotation and scary things could start to happen*"
"*disclaimer – scary things referring to great things against any team except the damn red sox"
Thanks for the comment jeterian2, and it’s a good point. The Yankees pitching has been dominant over this seven game winning streak, as evidenced by CC’s 7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 7K outing last night. With Wang coming back soon, the rotation should only get better, right? Not so fast. I don’t want to rain on everyone’s parade, but I’m going to play the devil on your shoulder and tell you why the Yankees aren’t going to rip of 130 wins in a row.
According to ESPN.com’s Tristan H. Cockcroft:
"Wang’s second rehabilitation start for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Sunday was an outstanding one, as he tossed a seven-inning, four-hit shutout against a Columbus team that entered batting an International League-best .285. Twelve of his 21 outs came on the ground and another by strikeout, and he threw 49 of 75 pitches (65.3 percent) for strikes, demonstrating impeccable command."
This is great news, don’t get me wrong. If Wang’s control is back, and it sounds like it is, he’ll be able to keep his sinker down in the zone. Wang hasn’t allowed an earned run in 13 innings of work for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but let’s put that number in perspective. Ian Kennedy has a 1.59 ERA in the same league, just a hair under the 8.17 mark he put up in the majors last season. Kei Igawa has a 3.77 in AAA. Kei Igawa!! The man who made Hideki “Fat Toad” Irabu look like Cy Young has an ERA under 4 in this league, so let’s not go crazy over Wang’s AAA numbers.
You also bring up Wang’s slider. A slider is a great thing to have if your Wang, but it’s meaningless if his sinker isn’t working. If The Rock has taught us anything (and it has taught us so much), it’s that you can have all the VX poison gas rockets in the world, but if you don’t have the guidance chips, they’re worthless. Wang’s sinker is his guidance chip. Without it, he’s worthless. Wang hasn’t had his sinker in the majors thus far, and he’s been historically abismal.
Thirdly, jeterian2, you say Slide [Wang] anywhere outside the top 2 in this rotation and scary things could start to happen. So who is the Yankees #2? Is it A.J. Burnett, and his 5.02 ERA and 1.40 WHIP? Or maybe Andy Pettitte, and his 4.18 ERA and 1.45 WHIP? Certainly not Joba, who despite striking out a batter per inning has a 1.50 WHIP and is averaging less than 6 innings a start.
Andy Pettitte hasn’t had an ERA under 4 since 2005 when he was pitching for the Astros in the NL. He hasn’t had an ERA under 4 for the Yankees since ’02, and last season he posted a 4.50 ERA. That’s not a World Series caliber #2. Burnett has only started 30 games or more twice (both contract years) and is a model of inconsistency this season. You can’t count on him to be a #2.
Outside of Sabathia, no one in the Yankees rotation has a WHIP under 1.40. A high WHIP will catch up with a pitcher, unless your name is Daisuke Matsuzaka. Even if it doesn’t lead to more runs, it will lead to a higher pitch count, fewer batters faced, and more bullpen innings. I think we can all agree the Yankees need more bullpen innings like Paula Abdul needs more oxcontin.
Lastly, your disclaimer is telling. Like it or not, we can’t just throw out the Yankees’ performance against the best team in the AL East, especially considering the Yankees have 13 more games against the Sox. Like it or not the Sox are now the yard stick the Yankees must measure themselves against. Boston is a better team almost top to bottom. Their rotation is arguably better (certainly younger and deeper, with Brad Penny and John frreaking Smoltz waiting in the wings), their bullpen is lightyears ahead of the Yanks, and the Sox lineup is just as good as the Yankees, especially if Ortiz ever gets going. Boston has invested heavily in their farm system and now they’re reaping the rewards. Boston’s farm system is loaded with young arms and it’s producing offensive stars with frightening regularity.
The Yankees? They’re 0-5 against the Sox.