In his first appearance with the Nationals since June 30, right-hander Chien-Ming Wang fought back from a first offering wild pitch to go 2 1/3 innings against the Dodgers on Wednesday night in Game 2 of a doubleheader. The Nationals eventually lost the game 7-6.
He had been active since September 4, when he returned from a lengthy rehab assignment at Double-A Harrisburg. Wang had allowed 12 total runs in his final two minor league appearances.
But Wednesday, manager Davey Johnson said Wang had good dive on his sinker, and that produced several ground balls.
“I wanted to have an opportunity to see Chien-Ming,” Johnson said. “I thought he threw the ball well. For not having pitched, I thought he had good sink. He got a lot of ground balls. He had a little more problem with the left-handers. But, I liked with the long lay off there, the way he threw the ball.”
He induced a ground ball to Ryan Zimmerman at third, who made a spectacular play to tag out Adrian Gonzalez. But after conferring, the umpires decided the run should have counted by Matt Kemp going home and the Dodgers led 6-0.
In the fifth, Andre Ethier and Luis Cruz led off with singles versus Wang. He then got six consecutive outs with three groundouts, two flyouts and a strikeout.
Johnson had mentioned Wang as a possible consideration to start Sunday against the Brewers. Craig Stammen is also another option, according to Johnson, who prefers a right-hander to take on Milwaukee’s right-handed power hitting lineup.
If Wang is held out of relief the rest of the week, he would have four days rest heading into Sunday’s game against the Brewers.
However, watch and see if Stammen is used at all the rest of the week as well. If Stammen is not called on to pitch in relief before Sunday, expect the reliever to make his first start in the big leagues since 2010.
Johnson said he also like seeing left-hander Zach Duke pitch two innings. Duke allowed one hit and no runs, no walks and struck out one.
“He kept us right in there,” Johnson said. “Bullpen did a great job.”
Based on his work Wednesday with no runs allowed in 2 1/3, Wang certainly did not hurt his chances from getting the spot start Sunday. One argument would be he would be the best candidate because you don’t want to mess with Stammen’s regimen this season as a reliever. His 2.39 ERA in 53 appearances the best run of his career.