Chien-Ming Wang on DL: What's Next for the Yankees?

Greg KincaidCorrespondent IJune 16, 2008

Just as the New York Yankees were climbing up the A.L. Wild Card ladders, devastating news hit the Bombers as Taiwanese ace Chien-Ming Wang landed on the disabled list.  The question is, how badly does this hurt the Yankees?

Wang has been without question the most consistent starting pitcher for the Yankees the past three seasons.  This year, Wang has posted a respectable 8-2 record, with an ERA just a few decimal points above four.  His 54:35 walk ratio is a little higher than normal, but in the end, he wins games most importantly.

This apparent base running injury to Wang is a significant blow to the Yankees. So as of now, this leaves the Yankees with two established veterans that you know can give you a solid start almost every time out.  After that, there are two pitchers that are question marks in the rotation.

Mike Mussina is now probably the top gun in the Yankees rotation for the next six weeks.  "The Moose" has been off to one of his best starts in years, posting an outstanding 10-4 record with an ERA of 3.87.  Most recently, Mussina has been untouchable, and is vowing to be the starting pitcher in the 2008 All-Star game at Yankee Stadium.

Andy Pettitte has been a little rough around the edges, but still gives the Yankees a reliable arm in the rotation.  Considering all the distractions that Pettitte dealt with in the off season, he has still managed to post a 6-5 record for the Yanks.  His stuff has not been great, but his last start against Houston was a dandy.  He hurled eight solid innings, giving up only five hits and one earned run.

As for the rest of the rotation, the Yankees have question marks to be answered.  As everyone knows, Joba Chamberlain will be a dominating starting pitcher someday.  He has looked better and better every start.  It is understood that Chamberlain will take time to develop.  However, the Yankees are fighting to gain ground in a Wild Card race, and have no time to mess around.  Chamberlain should be a safe third starter for now, as long as the bullpen helps him out in close games. 

Darrel Rasner has been more a surprise than a disappointment.  Even though he is 3-4, he may be the most economical pitcher on this staff right now.  His 3.64 is second best of the current starters, trailing behind Chamberlain.  Most importantly, he throws strikes.  Six walks in 42 innings is quite impressive.

So this leads the Yankees to that questionable fifth spot of the rotation.  Ian Kennedy has had plenty of opportunities to earn that spot, but it is quite obvious that he will still need some time in the minors to develop into that first-round pick starter he was supposed to be.  Phil Hughes won't be back soon. 

The thing the Yankees need to do is get that solid starting pitcher that rounds out the rotation.  And if they want to make a deal, it must be made now.  Tampa Bay is showing no signs of slowing down, and the Yankees need to continue to gain ground.  The question is, who are some capable starters on the market?

Probably the most attractive option is Roy Oswalt of the Houston Astros.  Oswalt has been off to a shaky start this year with Houston, but a change in scenery would maybe be the best thing for him.  We can see that he is still capable of being a 17-game winner, and being able to strike out ten in a game.  This would be a solid move by the Yankees, adding another veteran arm that could give you a solid seven innings on a consistent basis. 

The problem is, what would the Yankees have to give up.  Melky Cabrera would maybe have to be the guy unfortunately.  Yankees fans love him, but with Johnny Damon having a stellar year, Cabrera could possibly be a good sacrifice.  Starting pitching is the need right now.  Sometimes, sacrifice is good.

Beyond Oswalt, there is not too much more out there that the Yankees would necessarily want for the rotation.  Ian Snell of the Pittsburgh Pirates would possibly be a good option, but he has been very inconsistent this year.  The Pirates would probably ask for too much young talent if the Yankees were to deal for Snell.  Cabrera would most likely be in that deal as well.

So the fifth spot in the rotation is a huge question mark right now.  If Brian Cashman wants to keep his job, maybe making a move now would help his status.  This year may be the toughest year for the Yankees to get into the playoffs, especially when Tampa Bay has the strong staff it does.