Taiwanese pitcher Wang Chien-ming will not be called up to the New York Yankees to replace the injured Joba Chamberlain because he needs time to become a more complete pitcher before he can compete successfully in the major leagues, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said on Thursday.
“He’s pitching some good games but he’s not a candidate for this. He’s not the power sinker he used to be, but we believe he needs to mix in more of his breaking balls to have the type of success necessary to pitch up here consistently,” Cashman said while addressing possible candidates to replace Chamberlain after the Yankees reliever strained his right oblique.
“He’s becoming a different type of pitcher now because he can’t come up here and just sink that sinker every pitch. He needs to incorporate some of his pitches in there and mix and match because he’s that reduced in velocity,” Cashman was quoted as saying by the New York Daily News.
Cashman said the team has considered a number of candidates to take Chamberlain’s rotation spot, but Wang is not one of them.
Cashman said the 33-year-old Taiwanese has been working on different pitches “because what he’s doing down there wouldn’t represent necessarily what we think he could do up here right now.”
In his prime, Wang’s sinker regularly hit between 93mph (150kph) and 96mph, but he was timed as hitting the 90mph -91mph range in his most recent Triple A start, already better than the high 80s he hit in his first two starts.
Wang re-signed with the Yankees in late March after pitching 12 scoreless innings for Taiwan in the World Baseball Classic, including six innings against Japan in the Tokyo Dome in which only two of his 76 pitches were breaking balls, according to one unofficial count.
He is since 2-1 with an 0.95 ERA in three games for the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, giving up 16 hits and only two earned runs while walking three and striking out seven in 19 innings pitched.
Wang has been mentioned as a possible addition to the Yankees starting rotation after Phil Hughes suffered an injury in spring training and Ivan Nova struggled with his control more recently, but the Yankees brass clearly has other ideas.
Wang led the Yankees with back-to-back 19-win seasons in 2006 and 2007 and had a 55-26 record and a 4.16 ERA with the club from 2005 to 2009.
He still harbors hopes of returning to the mound with the Yankees, having declined to use the first opt-out clause in his contract earlier this week. His next opt-out date, when he can get out of his minor league contract with the Yankees if he is not called up, is less than a month away.