Thursday, March 27, 2008

Wang Confident for Opening Day

Our boy "The Wanger", Chien-Ming Wang had, to put it politely, a miserable post-season. He hasn't exactly had the best spring training either. But after yesterday's 5 inning, 4 run performance, he felt confident as he prepares for his opening day start on Monday. And his manager Joe Girardi felt it was his best appearance of the spring.

Fair enough. Robinson Cano and Alex Rodriguez both blew double play balls that would have meant just a 1 run inning instead of 4 runs. And all the runs were earned since you can't assume double plays.

Wang has tried some new things this spring, including a new change up and came out of yesterday's game realizing he has to throw inside more on hitters so they're not so comfortable up there.

It used to be we didn't worry about The Wanger at all. But we are a bit worried at the moment. Wang has always been a cool customer. He seemed to effortlessly win 8 games in 17 rookie starts and followed that up with a fabulous 19 win season in 2006.

But even though he won 19 games last year, Wang struggled at times, especially in the second half. His two playoff appearances, were to put it politely, awful. (It also makes a question Ron Guidry's ability to help a pitcher make adjustments). Wang has always been a cool customer. "He just never gets rattled", were words often used by Joe Torre.

But after getting thrashed by the Blue Jays for 8 runs in 2.2 innings last August, Wang was clearly rattled. He was 6-1, 3.15 w/ 2 no decisions the rest of the way, but he struggled with his control, walking 3 or more batters in 5 of those last 9 starts. The 3.15 ERA was a bit misleading too as he escaped a lot of jams and went long in a lot of counts.

We've always felt confident in The Wanger, but we are concerned. It is tempered a bit though by having Dave Eiland as the pitching coach. He seems to be able to quickly recognize issues as he did earlier this spring after Wang didn't make it out of the 1st inning against the Reds.

Hopefully the real Wanger is here all year. The Yankees NEED him.

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