Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Preparing for Wang's Second Start: What To Watch For

On Friday night, Chien-Ming Wang had his first start in the majors in more than 2 seasons. Everyone in NatsTown was excited for the day that many (including us) thought may never happen, but then, the letdown happened. Wang gave up 4 earned runs on 8 hits with just 60 pitches. The Nats were never going to force him through too much stress, but let's take a moment and think about what we should watch for today.
  • Pitch count: Wang threw 60 pitches through just 4 innings in his first appearance. That's not really the model of pitch efficiency for a guy coming back from major shoulder surgery. The organization will continue to be cautious here for a bit.
  • Strike/Ball ratio: Of the 60 pitches thrown, only 39 of them were strikes. One thing that's easy to forget: it's really nerve-wracking to pitch in the major leagues. It's more nerve-wracking when you're a hero in your home country (Taiwan) and you know for a fact that every person you've ever known from your homeland is watching your game, plus millions more. Look for this ratio to become a bit more effective today.
  • Velocity and Location: Look for low to mid-90s fastballs and mid-80s change ups from Wang if he's going to have one of his more effective games. He hasn't traditionally been a strikeout pitcher though, so while velocity will be important for his timing, location is key. He has to keep pitches down.
  • Getting through the 1st inning: In his first start, Wang gave up 4 runs in just the 1st inning. It goes without saying that it's imperative that he fix the issue and give his guys a chance to score the first runs. It's always better to pitch with a lead, and it becomes more important with a guy coming off many years of rehab. The less stressful the situation, the better off he'll be.
That's just our quick preview of what you should watch for. What will you be watching for, loyal readers?

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