Chien-Ming Wang has pitched eight innings over the last 12 days, nearly all in low-leverage situations.
Eventually, if not already, the arm strength he built up while rehabbing is going to start to fade. Wang can’t really throw an extended bullpen session in case he is needed in relief that night. Meanwhile the Yankees don’t have a day off until June 15, so there is no window to get him the work he needs.
I asked Wang the other day how many pitches he could throw if he was named as a starter. He estimated about 80. Then in a second start, he said, he could get to 100.
Throwing 30 or 40 pitches in two innings of relief doesn’t do him much good. For him, that’s just getting into a game.
Eventually, the Yankees are going to need Wang to start. Then, because they have miscast him as a reliever, he won’t be able to give them much. Or maybe his control will be off due to a lack of use. As each day passes, the situation gets worse for him.
There is no obvious answer to this. The knee-jerk move the Yankees made when they activated Wang is slowly undoing all the progress he made. Phil Hughes has pitched well enough to stay in the rotation. But Wang is an established front-end starter. A six-man rotation isn’t the solution as you want to get all you can out of CC Sabathia, A.J.Burnett and Andy Pettitte. You don’t mess up the routines of three players to accommodate one.
But at some point soon, the Yankees need to figure something out. Leaving Wang in the bullpen is accomplishing nothing more than putting him back in the same hole he was in the first place.