I’ve got plenty on the whole bizarre Joel Peralta pine tar incident coming up in a bit, with reactions from both the Nationals and the Rays.
First, let’s get to Chien-Ming Wang, who delivered another poor outing tonight and has a 6.62 ERA and 2.26 WHIP since joining the rotation.
Wang has now made four starts this season. None have been all that impressive, and often, they’ve featured Wang struggling with his mechanics. That was true tonight, as well.
“He’s been having some problems with his delivery and he’s been rushing and that’s what he was doing again today,” manager Davey Johnson said. “He was rushing. When he gets out in front it’s kind of like a hitter lunging and he doesn’t get a chance to get his arm up and that’s when his command is a little, he’s still having some delivery problems.”
Wang allowed five runs over 3 1/3 innings, giving up seven hits and three walks. Those numbers look all the worse when compared to the ones put up by Ross Detwiler, who came on in relief of Wang. Detwiler worked 3 2/3 hitless innings, striking out three and allowing only one baserunner, who got aboard via a hit-by-pitch.
The mechanical issues won’t seem to go away, even though Wang feels he’s making progress in between starts with pitching coach Steve McCatty.
“Every time we have a bullpen session, pitching coach McCatty was trying to tell me that I need to stay back and on top of the ball, feel more on the ball,” Wang said through interpreter John Hsu. “I think (I did) OK during the bullpen, but I just didn’t feel that well when I go out there today.”
Wang said he didn’t go into this start at all concerned about his place in the Nats’ rotation, but now Johnson and team officials have to decide where to go with Wang from here. They liked the veteran righty enough this offseason to give him a one-year, $4 million deal, plus incentives, and despite his struggles so far, they have faith he can be effective as a starter.
As I wrote earlier, Wang can’t offer much out of the bullpen because of previous shoulder issues and he has no minor league options remaining. It might be a case where the Nats either decide to stick it out with the 32-year-old or go in another direction. If Detwiler is pitching well and Wang continues to scuffle, that will be a tough call to make.
It won’t be a call that will be made right away, however.
“I’m not going to make a decision right after a rough outing,” Johnson said. “Detwiler was obviously superb. I’ll talk it over and see. I want to get Chien-Ming back to where his delivery and everything is good. It was a little bit better today but, what’d he throw? 80 pitches in four innings?
“I know how good he can be. My job is to try to get everybody doing the things they’re capable of doing. ... I think there’s a lot there. It’s my job to make sure he gets comfortable and right. We need to figure it out. It’s getting late.”