clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Yankees Need a New Approach for an Effective Wang

No, this is not a commentary on the widespead Viagra use as a PED .

Last year, CMW allowed 82 earned runs in just shy of 200 innings.  This year, he's allowed 42 ER in only 82.2IP, causing his ERA to jump nearly a full run.  Wang's ineffectiveness, combined with the injuries to Arod and Posada, are the bulk of the reason this is a .500 team*. 

*If anyone hasn't noticed, you cement your position as a .500 team in rebuilding mode when you can only split a four game set with the worst team in league (the Royal's Run Differential is the worst in the AL, thankfully for KC, the Nationals really suck, otherwise the Royals would be the worst team in baseball).  For me, the Yankees are not a contender until they show some serious fight; let's say 10 over or 3 back.  End rant.

While Wang's WHIP is up slightly, 1.29 to 1.33, his on-base against and slugging against are both down, .324 to .315 and .368 to .334, respectively.

The real trouble is his approach.  We have all been wringing our hands for a couple years because Wang doesn't strike out enough guys to remain a dominant starter for the next decade.  This year, he's getting the K's: 5.33/9IP, up from 4.7 last season (a career high).

But by mixing up his pitches more, Wang has had trouble finding the arm slot for his sinker after using his slider- this has let to a big jump in BB/9 (2.66 to 3.59) and regularly pitching behind in the count.  The new mix of pitches and the bad counts have combined to drop Wang's groundball-flyball ratio from a career 2.53:1, down to 1.69:1.

In my mind, the question is:  Can Wang learn to switch smoothly between his pitches and master all his tools, or would he be better off going back to the sinker full time?  Is the loss of his consistency (for now) worth the potential gain of his brilliance?

Remember a couple years ago when the M's hired Paul Molitor as their hitting coach, and he got Ichiro to change his approach to be a more traditional hitter- waiting for good counts then hitting for power?  Ichiro hit .220 for a month or two, then went back to his slasher approach and hit over .400 for the rest of the season.  If Wang doesn't figure out his arm slot issues soon, then I'm going to have to wonder if his approach to pitching isn't like Ichiro's approach to hitting- so radically different from the rest of the league because of his skill set that we can't project his short- or long-term effectiveness using the standard metrics.