The struggling starter will try to prove that he belongs in the rotation when the Yankees continue a three-game home set against the Washington Nationals, who have dropped 10 straight road games.
This could be the last chance the Yankees give Wang (0-4, 14.34 ERA) to sort out his problems. A 19-game winner in 2006 and 2007, the right-hander has lasted past the fourth inning just once in his five starts this year.
“As I told him, it’s important that he has a real good start,” manager Joe Girardi told the Yankees’ official Web site. “He needs to show us that he’s back and that he’s fully back. At some point, production is important. We told him that it’s a very important start.”
Wang gave up four runs over 2 2-3 innings last Wednesday to lose 6-5 at Boston. He was originally scheduled to pitch the series opener against Washington, but New York (37-27) pushed him back a day because his wife gave birth to the couple’s first child Tuesday.
Although the birth may be another distraction, Wang insists he will be ready.
“I try to not think too much and go out and pitch,” he said. “There’s only one thing - to go out and pitch.”
Wang is 5-3 with a 3.60 ERA in 10 interleague starts and will face the Nationals (16-46) for the second time. He pitched a six-hitter in a 3-2 loss at Washington on June 18, 2006.
The Yankees may be without shortstop Derek Jeter(notes), who left Tuesday’s 5-3 victory with left ankle soreness. Jeter apparently hurt himself when the Mets’ Gary Sheffield(notes) slid into him at second during a double play in the Yankees’ 15-0 win Sunday.
“He said he woke up a little sore yesterday and it was sore to run today,” Girardi said, “and we noticed for the first time when he was running tonight, that he had a little hitch. It seemed to get a little bit worse and worse.”
Girardi said Jeter is day to day.
Before Tuesday’s loss, manager Manny Acta responded to rumors that his job is in jeopardy with the Nationals on pace to lose 120 games.
“I don’t worry about rumors,” Acta said. “When your number is up, your number is up.”
The Nationals will start John Lannan(notes) (3-5, 3.51), a Long Island native who has never faced the Yankees. Washington has won his last two starts, although Lannan did not get a decision Thursday against Cincinnati when he yielded two runs over six innings in a 3-2 victory.
The left-hander has pitched much worse on the road than at home. Lannan is 1-5 with a 6.30 ERA in six road outings compared to 2-0 with a 1.72 ERA in seven starts in Washington.