Saturday, March 24, 2007


The first serious injury of the 2007 baseball season (that I'm aware of) has happened. Chien-Ming Wang has pulled a muscle and will spend the first month of the season on the disabled list. This is not the major blow to the Yankees pennant chances that it might seem, but it sure doesn't help their cause. Wang was likely to be named the opening day starter, an honor he earned by being the most valuable pitcher for the Yankees last season.

By missing a month of the season Wang is likely to miss about four starts. Those starts will be transfered to another pitcher, likely Jeffrey Karstens or Darrel Rasner. Both pitchers have thrown very well this spring. Rasner has a 1.50 ERA in 12.0 innings pitched, while Karstens has a 2.70 ERA in 13.1 innings. Those are terrific numbers to be sure, but they are against spring competition, so its difficult to discern without looking into them more how meaningful they are. Instead of delving into the numbers, I'll fall back on Baseball Prospectus and their PECOTA projections for these guys. Here they are:

Karstens: 5.49 ERA in 139.2 innings
Rasner: 5.02 ERA in 104 innings

So, depending on how you value spring training performance you could say the Yankees are in good shape with both Karstens and Rasner available to pick up Wang's slack. But if you look at BP's projections, you get a decidedly different picture. Teams that are attempting to win their division usually try to avoid giving many starts to pitchers with over 5 run ERAs.

Just for some perspective, Wang has a 2.57 ERA in 14.0 innings this spring. BP says he'll have a 4.31 ERA in 182 innings pitched.

Even if Wang does pitch like PECOTA says he will, there is a serious drop off in quality for the Yankees. We'll have to see how they do in the four games Wang misses. Maybe it won't end up mattering. After all, the Red Sox and Blue Jays will likely have injuries to their starters to deal with at some point as well.

Just a few days ago we thought the rotations for the Red Sox and Yankees were all set, and just 8 days before opening day cracks in the armor are starting to show.

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