P Wei-Chung Wang was the cause of grief for many Milwaukee Brewers fans this season. They felt there was no reason for a rule-five pick to clog up a roster spot for other able-armed pitchers and hoped the experiment would soon end. But in recent weeks during his rehab outings, Wang has shown why the Brewers coveted his arm so much and how well he can pitch when he receives consistent work.
When coming to Milwaukee, Wang was not only in unfamiliar territory, but he was facing an impossible work routine. Expecting Wang, a pitcher who had only 47 innings of rookie league baseball, to succeed was not only unrealistic, but also not plausible considering his work schedule. There were often times that he would go two-plus weeks without pitching, which would be difficult for even a pitcher with Clayton Kershaw-type skills, let alone a rookie who has never pitched above the rookie league.
While his major-league innings left a lot to be desired, his minor-league innings have been outstanding. In six starts, Wang has a 1-2 record with a 2.52 ERA. His best outing of the season came in his last start on Aug. 27 in high-A Brevard County. He allowed just two runs in 7.2 innings of work while striking out eight. It is outings like this that show why the Pittsburgh Pirates did not want to give up the young lefty and that the Brewers made the right move in keeping him.
This fall, Wang is one of eight Brewers who will be participating in the Arizona Fall League. Here he will not only be one of the most-watched Brewers, but he will also have an opportunity to gain innings he lost during the regular season as a member of the big-league club.
Wang took a few beatings in meaningless situations, but he was able to sustain his spot on the roster and remain in the organization. Players like Johan Santana, Dan Uggla and Josh Hamilton have been rule-five success stories who became stars and Wang will be next. By keeping Wang, the Brewers gambled and won. They played with a 24-man roster for over half of the season, but it was surely worth it.