Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Game 65: Papa's Got A Brand New Bag

Chien-Ming Wang became a father yesterday as he and his wife Chia-Ling Wu welcomed their first child. Justin Jesse Wang checked in yesterday morning at 7 pounds, 12 ounces. Word is he already has the best sinker in the nursery.

In Taiwanese culture, the birth of a child is said to bring good luck to the parents. CMW can certainly use it today. His struggles this year have been well documented. This could be his last chance in the rotation for the foreseeable future.

The good news for Wang is that he'll be facing the lowly Washington Nationals. The bad news for Wang is that, as we detailed yesterday, they feature an above average offense despite being an epically bad team. Further compounding issues for Wang is that the Nats are slightly below league average in groundball to flyball ratio (0.72 vs. 0.79) and in groundouts to airouts (1.04 vs. 1.08). The Nats trend slightly towards being a flyball team, and flyballs in Yankee Stadium often turn into home runs. If Wang's sinker isn't sinking tonight, he could find himself in more trouble than usual.

Wang will be opposed by Washington's default "ace" John Lannan. The young southpaw has not faced the Yankees in his year plus in the Big Leagues (uh oh). He enters his start tonight with an impressive ERA+ of 124, but his peripherals suggest he might be getting lucky. His FIP of 5.06 is far above the league average of 4.35. His K/9 is low (4.4); his BB/9 (3.6) and WHIP (1.42) are somewhat high, and his BABIP of .278 is far below the league average of .301. In short, the numbers suggest he's due to get rocked at some point soon. Let's hope it happens tonight.

As Jay suggested this morning, Derek Jeter and his gimpy ankle will get the night off. According to Pete Abe, Jeter wanted to play (of course) but has been sent for an MRI. Having Ramiro Pena at short to scoop up some groundballs maybe helpful in getting Wanger right. And the poor guy needs all the help he can get right now.

In his two starts since returning from the disabled list, we've selected songs connected to the theme of Wang righting his 2009 season. It hasn't happened so far. Tonight, we try one more time as the new papa looks to start a brand new season for himself. So as CMW tries to break his funk, we turn to the song generally credited as giving birth to funk. Here's hoping the Godfather of Soul can bring some good mojo for tonight's start.

Come here sister
Papa's in the swing
He ain't too hip now
But I can dig that new breed babe
He ain't no drag
He's got a brand new bag

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