After this offseason was complete with CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett many thought those two were Yankees' manager Joe Girardi's one and two in the rotation. But, Chien-Ming Wang has been one of the most stable pitchers in the league since joining the Yanks in 2006.
Wang, last year's ace, will be Girardi's number two this year heading into the 2009 season and it's a place where Wang can flourish because of his high-groundball rate and his ability to pitch deep into ball games.
Let's examine how Wang matches up against other number twos around the league.
In this study I will use a three-year time span for Tampa Bay's James Shields, Boston's Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Blue Jays' No. 2 pitcher from last year, and current Yankee pitcher A.J. Burnett in comparison to Chien-Ming Wang.
The stat set we will use is Innings Pitched (IP), W-L Record, Strikeouts (K), Walks (BB), ERA, ERA+, WHIP, Strikeouts per 9 innings (K/9), percentage of batted balls that were groundballs (GB%), and groundball to flyball ratio (GB/FB).
Since 2006, Wang has led these four pitchers in GB% (58.7), GB/FB (2.67) by a very wide margin. Burnett in those same categories comes in at 51.3% GB and 1.69 GB/FB which makes sense since they are both sinker ball pitchers.
Dice-K lives on the edge with an abysmal 38.5% GB and 0.89 GB/FB.
Wang also leads this group with a 46-15 record in three seasons, while pitching 512.1 innings and sporting a 3.80 ERA. He also holds the the second-best ERA+ out of the group at 118, only Dice-K is better at 126.
Where Wang struggles is his WHIP and K/9 as they are 1.305 and 4.32, respectively. Shields owns the best WHIP at 1.199 while Burnett takes the best K/9 at 8.93, averaging almost a strikeout per inning.
In case you were wondering the full gamut of stats used, I will outline each pitcher for you. BOLD indicates leader in that particular category.
Daisuke Matsuzaka (two-year totals)
From this stat set, we can conclude that Wang fits in as a pretty dominate No. 2 pitcher in the Yankees rotation. Surprisingly, A.J. would make a great No. 2 pitcher also and gives the Yankees options.
Girardi can put two power pitchers at the top of his rotation in CC and A.J. who will give them high strikeout and decent groundball rates. Conversely, he can put a power pitcher and a finesse pitcher back-to-back who will give them decent strikeout rates but better groundball rate.
This is a good problem for the Yankees to have, unlike last year. After doing this little study I'm convinced that the AL East has the best No. 2 pitchers in the entire league, hands down.
Next time, I will cover A.J. Burnett and his place within the Yankees rotation.