When your team is sitting 9 game below .500 and about to use its 12th different starting pitcher of the season, you sometimes have to take a calculated risk.
For Alex Anthopoulos and the Toronto Blue Jays, that risk comes in the shape of former Yankee stand-out Chien-Ming Wang, who will make the start for the Blue Jays on Tuesday against the Chicago White Sox.
It’s been a long journey for the 33-year-old former ace, whose fall has been well documented. Once a back-to-back 19-game winner for the Yankees, in 2006 and 2007 respectively, Wang has won just 15 games since.
A foot injury, suffered while running the bases against Houston on June 15, 2008, was the first in a long-run of injuries to befall Wang. He would avoid surgery, but would fail to make another start that season. However, the foot injury lead to struggles the next season, and eventually shoulder and hip issues as Wang compensated for the foot injury by changing his delivery. After July 4th, he would not make another Major League appearance for the Yankees.
Wang would spend all of the 2010 season rehabilitating in the Washington Nationals system, with mixed results. 2011 would see the right-hander getting 11 starts for Washington, with a 4.04 ERA and a 4-3 record. He would follow that up with a rough 2012 campaign that saw just Wang make just 10 appearances (5 starts) and compile an ERA of 6.68.
However, 2013 has been a different story and the Blue Jays are hoping for a glimpse of a different Wang.
Now 33-years-old, Wang has made at Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre (Yankee affiliate), and has appeared to be throwing the ball well. He sits at 4-4 and holds a 2.33 ERA. More impressive is the fact that he’s finding his spots again, averaging 1.6 BB/9.
That all said, the Blue Jays are not necessarily looking for Wang to return to his 2006-2007 form, as Athopoulos told Arash Madani in the tweet below”
Anthopoulos says commitment to Wang is “start-to-start.” AA says Wang and Jenkins have similar styles, but Wang’s had more success #Bluejays
— Arash Madani (@ArashMadani) June 9, 2013
Still, in a season that is fast getting away from Toronto and the team grasping at straws looking for some way to get things to even out, Wang represents a hope. While they aren’t looking for 2006 Wang, they’ll take an approximation of a starter that can give them six innings a start and keep them in games.
Whether that pitcher is Chien-Ming Wang is as much a mystery to the Blue Jays as it is to us. However, when the house has left you with little to bet with, you have to gamble with what you’ve got left and hope for the best.
As Anthopoulos told Evan Peaslee at MLB.com:
“We hope he makes a lot of starts for us, but you don’t want to promise X number amount of starts. Hopefully he does well, and we catch lightning in the bottle with him.”
Lightning in the bottle would be a great break for a team that has been sans of any kind of good luck this season.
If it is not lightning, at the very least, a glimmer of hope would be nice.