crazy colored glasses

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Valuable "Phil" In

One of the Yankees most successful pitchers of the past few seasons has been Chien-Ming Wang. He's posted a career record of 54-21. Last June, after coming out of the gate strongly (8-2) Wang hurt his foot running the bases in an inter-league game. Wang did not require surgery, but the extensive rehab caused him to miss the rest of the season.

With the injury apparently behind him Wang started the season as the Yanks number two starter. Once the season started, it was easy to see that this was not the same Wang. His mechanics seemed wrong. Which tells me he may not be over the injury that cost him most of 2008. His release point was off, therefor causing is sinker to stay high in the strike zone and get clobbered. With a favorable early schedule, the Yanks decided to send Chien down and have him work on his mechanics.

With most teams, the loss of a number 2 starter would be considered catastrophic. Starting pitching is one area where the Yanks have a few viable options down in Columbus. That option in this case, is Phil Hughes. As a Yankee fan, I feel like I've been hearing (and waiting) for Phil Hughes for a few years now. After a pretty successful (but injury shortened) rookie season in 2007 all of New York was abuzz with expectations. The Yankees thought Hughes would be a cornerstone of the rotation in 2008. After some initial struggles, he was sent down to the minors, where he stayed for most of the year.

With the Yankees 2009 investment in starting pitching, I wondered if Hughes would have to sit for another year in the minors. I also wondered if the Yanks should keep him on the club as a long relief man in the pen (something I think will eventually happen). Then Wang struggled, which left the door open for Hughes. Now I try not to get to excited about individual games in a long season, but a very poised Phil Hughes stepped up to the challenge and pitched a gem of a first game. Has the kid finally put it all together. I think he has. I think he's ready to contribute mightily to the success of the Yankees. So much so, that I think the Yankees can take their time with Wang as they have a young pitcher who will pitch well in his place.