After posting a 2.90 ERA through his first nine starts, Chien-Ming Wang has a 7.91 ERA over his last three. What's gone wrong and can he pull out of it? Here are some of Wang's rates from his first nine starts vs. his last three:
Wang's been bad across the board over his last three starts with one surprising exception, his ground ball rate has actually been higher of late. Now compare those two sets of rates to Wang's career rates entering the year:
Save for the walk and caught stealing rates, his peripherals from his last three games wouldn't have seemed out of place coming from the Chien-Ming Wang of the last three years. That was the sinkerballer with the alarmingly low strikeout rates who seemed to be defying the odds. Over his first nine starts of this year, Wang was a different pitcher, mixing his pitches more and thus spiking his strikeout rate at the cost of a few groundballs, some of which would have gone for hits. The result was real dominance, but it seems Wang has gotten away from that and reverted not only back to the one-trick pitcher he was, but beyond it to a pitcher suffering from his inability to miss bats.
There's more to it than that, certainly, but just when Wang looked to be making the leap from the Yankee ace to one of the best pitchers in baseball, he's taken a mighty stumble. Remarkably, the Yankees have won two of his last three starts (by scored of 6-5 and 7-6) and are still 9-3 in Wang's starts on the year.
Today, Wang and the Yanks take on Dustin McGowan, who has the fastest average fastball among all major league starters according to FanGraphs, looking to take the series from Toronto and get the Yanks back to .500.
Wilson Betemit remains at first base as Jason Giambi is still nursing his bruised foot, but Jorge Posada is behind the plate for the first time since April 26.
In addition to Posada's return, the amateur draft kicks off at 2pm today. Two years ago the Yankees' first two picks were Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain with the 21st and 41st overall picks, both of which were received as compensation when Tom Gordon signed with the Phillies. The Yankee farm system is packed with exciting prospects (most of them pitchers) from the last three drafts. Today, the Yankees and scouting director Damon Oppenheimer (the man who has been making the picks since 2005) will add to that crop starting with the 28th overall pick and the 44th overall pick, the latter of which they received as compensation when Luis Vizcaino signed with the Rockies.