Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Re-examining Wang, Part V

Fifth in a series of reviewing Chien Ming Wang's performances. Click here for Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV.

So how'd our favorite subject do last night? Pretty well, just looking at his stats. But I saw a few things that concerned me. We'll get to all of that...

His line: 7 IP, 1 ER, 7 hits, 3 BB, 2 K, 101 PC, no-decision

Wang gave up just one run over seven innings, pitching effectively and fairly efficiently. His pitch count was right in line with his season/career averages. However, what seemed obvious to me was Wang could not muster his " kill" pitch. In prior starts, he's been able to put away batters with two strike counts, helping him boost his K rates to levels we had not seen from Wang prior. Last night, Wang struggled to put away those same hitters. It was most obvious in the Hinske at bat in the 4th inning.

Wang had allowed a Pena double in the 4th and with 2 outs, Hinske was up. Wang ran the count to two strikes, but failed to put Hinske away, leaving a splitter high over the plate, which Hinske knocked into right field for the only run Wang would surrender.

Now, I know this probably reeks of nitpicking; how could I criticize a pitcher who lowered his ERA to 2.90 after giving up just one run over 7 IP? Well, I'm not, really. What concerned me is the 3 walks and Wang's inability to harness the same repetoire that helped him boost his K rates significantly this year. Maybe it's just a blip; maybe he's just tired. Maybe it's just that the Rays had a good approach against him.

So let's take a look at Wang's key performance indicators:

Ground ball/Fly ball
According to, his GB/FB ratio now stands at 2.06, up from the 1.84 after his previous game. Sounds like the sinker was working last night, eh?

Again, his ERA improved to 2.90 with the outting. No complaints. None. Wang's been a consistent arm during what's quickly becoming a "that year" that Yanks fans have been fearing.

Wang K'd just two batters last night. I mentioned how he seemed unable to put hitters away so here's the "proof". His K-rate on the season fell from 6.23 to 5.80, still a notable increase over 2007's 4.70. This bears watching.

Pitches per inning
Wang averaged 14.4 pitches per inning, in line with his season average of 14.5. He traded K's for BB's in terms of pitches used so obviously we'd like to see him use those extra bullets for K's rather than BB's.

Again, I am not nitpicking or criticizing Wang. He's been marvelous this year and I am enjoying watching him. I'm trying to identify the KPI's for his success the year and when I see a diversion from what's worked so far, I just want to point it out. Will he revert to his career norms with K's or will he pick it back up as he was doing earlier? It's too early to tell as we're dealing with ultra-small sample sizes here. That said, we'll keep watching. Tell me if you are seeing something different or have a different.

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