Could a former New York Yankees ace be returning to the pinstripes soon? It is a possibility. According to reports, the Yankees will send two scouts to follow Team Chinese Taipei during this year’s World Baseball Classic. Former Yankees pitcher Chien-Ming Wang will play for Chinese Taipei in this year’s WBC.
While there are eight players on the Chinese Taipei team with ties to Major League Baseball teams, only Wang has experience at the big league level. Wang pitched for the Yankees from 2005-2009. After missing the entire 2010 season rehabbing from a shoulder injury he sustained late in the 2009 season, he pitched sparingly for the Washington Nationals from 2011-2012.
The early part of Wang’s MLB career was an absolute success. After being called up with on April 30th of the 2005 season, Wang went on to post an 8-5 record with a 4.02 ERA in his rookie season over 18 games, 17 of them starts. The next two seasons, he turned into the ace of the Yankees rotation, winning 19 games in each season and posting ERA’s of 3.63 and 3.70. In 2006, he finished second to Johan Santana in the American League Cy Young race.
In 2007, injuries began to derail his career. After getting off to an 8-2 start that season, Wang suffered a season-ending foot injury while running the bases in an interleague game against the Houston Astros. The following season, he got off to a disastrous 0-6 start before being demoted to the minors. He returned to win a game for the Yankees before being shut down with the shoulder injury.
After 2009, the Yankees decided not to re-sign Wang. He would sign with the Nationals but miss the entire 2010 season as he rehabbed from the shoulder injury. After starting 2011 in the Nationals minor league system, he worked his way up to the big league club and made 11 appearances for the team, all of them starts. He posted a 4-3 record with a 4.04 ERA. The following season, the injuries returned, this time a hamstring injury, that limited him to just 10 appearances (five of them starts). He posted a 2-3 record with a 6.68 ERA.
The Yankees may be considering Wang as insurance policy to the back end of their rotation. While the first four spots of the rotation are set, Ivan Nova and David Phelps will battle it out for the fifth spot. If neither can nail down the job, manager Joe Girardi will have a tough time filling the spot from within. Michael Pineda is not expected back until June the earliest and prospect Manny Banuelos is not expected to be at full strength from Tommy John surgery until next season. The only other candidates are prospect Dellin Betances who is coming off a horrible 2012 minor league season.