One Bad Inning Dooms Chien-Ming Wang In Toronto Blue Jays Debut

By Thom Tsang
Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Good news: Chien-Ming Wang lasted 7.1 innings in his 2013 debut.

Now, if only he could just get a mulligan on one of them …

It you were to look at the line for the latest participant in the Toronto Blue Jays‘ starting pitching carousel, you probably wouldn’t come away too impressed. After all, the righty did allow five runs on a whopping 10 hits and a trio of walks, with two of the hits being of the outside-the-park variety. The bluebirds may have rallied to win the game, but it’d probably be safe to say that Wang was lucky to have escaped with a no-decision.

Well, that’s one way to look at it, anyway.

The other way, while somewhat impractical, paints the veteran in a whole different light. See, while he did give up his fair share of damage against the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday, most of it came from one disastrous four-run inning that saw him allow four hits and a pair of walks, with the key blow being a two-run homer given up to Conor Gillaspie on a 1-1 sinker that didn’t quite sink enough.

To put that in perspective, that’s to say that through Wang’s 6.1 non-disastrous innings, he allowed just a run on six hits, one walk, while striking out three. Quite a stark difference, no?

Understandably, that kind of selective and arbitrary look isn’t particularly useful in most cases, but in this case, it does at least tell you just how Wang was about to pitch into the eighth inning on just 93 pitches despite those otherwise unimpressive numbers — which is to say that he was impressively effective with a 9-2 GO-AO rate.

Most importantly, Wang did the job of relieving the overworked bullpen. Sounds a little bit backwards, but considering just taxed this group of relievers has been recently (league-leading 247 IP over last seven days), the precious innings he saved cannot be understated.

It required a little bit of luck (he loaded the bases in the fifth with no outs and somehow got out of it with no damage done), and while it wasn’t quite the debut Wang probably would have envisioned overall, it was more than enough to earn him a second shot to see if he can improve from it.

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