Wang’s Outing; Minor-League Options

Various writers have detailed Chien-Ming Wang’s extended spring training game today in Tampa, and here is his line: 7 IP, 9 H, 5 R 4ER,0 BB, 11K on 91 pitches/70 strikes.  Apparently the story was somewhat similar to what he experienced in his first three (woeful) starts thus far–sinker down, good results; sinker not sinking, Wang gets hit.  Pete Abraham is right to report that the infields aren’t high quality, and the infielders are youngsters, so there will be hits.  It’s also worth reiterating that he didn’t walk anyone, so the control is really the problem.  It’s location in the zone, and the break or lack thereof on his sinker.  Nardi Contreras questions whether or not Wang’s arm strength is sufficient after the long layoff after last June’s foot injury.  He just may not have enough gas on his pitches to get the appropriate break on his sinker, or to avoid the worst damage should his location be less than ideal.  Abraham and Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News speculate that he may well land on the DL with a “tired arm.”  That would put Phil Hughes in a position to contribute early and often to the Yanks’ rotation.

Hughes has been excellent in SWB, with a 3-0 record, a 1.86 ERA, a .233 BAA, 19 K/19 1/3 IP, and a 1.03 WHIP (3 BB & 17 H).  He could be good to go in what would be Wang’s Tuesday slot in Detroit.  I’d love to see it, and see Hughes produce.  Ian Kennedy has been very good at SWB as well, with a 1-0 record, 2.00 ERA, 0.89 WHIP (11 H, 5 BB in 18 IP), and 21 K.  I’d prefer to see Hughes, but Kennedy is earning another look should the opportunity arise.

Two others deserving some strong consideration for extended time in The Bronx are David Robertson and Mark “The Monster” Melancon.  Both have an ERA of 0.00 and are dominating batters–Melancon: 10 1/3 IP, 4 H, 3 BB (0.68 WHIP) 17 K. Robertson has been equally impressive–8 IP, 4 H, 2 BB (0.75 WHIP), 14 K. I think a little pressure on some relievers currently in the majors is not a bad thing at all, and I wish that Robertson would have had a chance to stay when he was called up.  When Joba came up in 2007 and lit opponents up, it corresponded–not accidentally–to when Nuke actually started pitching fairly well, if still unreliably.  Should Veras not stay sharp, should Edwar falter, the Yankees have young, hard-throwing options to which to turn.  Unless the bullpen becomes lights-out, I wouldn’t be surprised to see either or both of them in New York by June.  Hardly a risky prediction, I know, but still worth discussing especially considering how good Robertson and Melancon have been.

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Published in: on April 23, 2009 at 8:44 pm  Comments (6)  

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I agree, Jason. As you know, I have been saying for a while that the Yanks have options to turn to if anyone in the current bullpen falters.

    How nice to have some options….rather than bring in a retread.

  2. BTW, besides Hughes and Kennedy at AAA….and I know it’s early (think 2010 or 2011, not 2009) but keep an eye on Zach McAllister at AA Trenton.

  3. We’ve been on the same page about the depth throughout, Mike. The Yanks have really done a good job stockpiling young pitching talent, and it’s becoming readily apparent that Robertson and Melancon are ready to give it a go in the majors. Other than a bad stretch from July 28 to August 9 last year, Robertson was quite good in his first go-around with the Yanks, and Melancon is just blowing ’em away at AAA. Tremendous advantage having such options, no question.

    Thanks for the heads-up about McAllister. 1-0, 2.08, 17 1/3 IP, 10 H, 7 R 4 ER, 5 BB, 9 K, 0.87 WHIP; impressive. So are the 5 HBP–WOW. I wonder if he’s pegged the bull yet. He’s not truly ready until he has.

  4. As for the bull pen even tho I have given him a bit of stick I think Veras has earned his place in the pen after the 14innings game. I do think Robertson and Melancon should be up sooner rather then later. It will be intresting to see what happens with IPK and Hughes I think one of them will replace Andy next year and other to the pen or traded.

  5. Interesting point about Wang’s lack of arm strength. In contrast, I remember Derek Lowe used to pitch better with a tired arm, because his sinkers wouldn’t sink at full strength.

  6. Nick, Veras has certainly gained some esteem in my eyes, too–though he must stay reliable. Same here about Robertson and Melancon, as well. They’re looming in the event anyone can’t go or can’t perform. Who knows after next year? I’d love to see Hughes, or even Kennedy, get a shot if he’s not back, but Pettite just might dazzle and stay healthy. He’s starter great, and I’m not ruling out anything or even considering too much about next year yet. But should Pettite not return, you’re right, Nick.

    That’s a good point about Lowe’s sinker, Steve. I guess there’s more than one method to it. With the Yanks, I’m not yet convinced it’s just arm strength since they often seem to treat injury information as states secrets.


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