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Can Chien-Ming Wang Help Struggling Blue Jays Rotation

Pitching Woes Have Hurt Toronto All Season Long

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | It's no secret that one of the biggest issues that has plagued the Toronto Blue Jays this season has been the performance of the starting rotation.

With an average ERA of 5.34 among starters, the Blue Jays rank near the bottom of the American League. It's become an issue - especially with Josh Johnson suffering a triceps injury and Ricky Romero continuing to struggle - that has forced Blue Jays management to look to add to the rotation.

On June 7, it was announced the SP Chien-Ming Wang had opted out of his minor league contract with the New York Yankees after coming to the realization that it was unlikely he was going to be called up to the big leagues. Not long after the announcement of his release - literally about 10 minutes after - Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported that Wang will sign with Toronto, and start for the Jays on Tuesday, June 11 against the Chicago White Sox.

It then begs the question: Can Wang really help the Blue Jays' pitching woes?

In nine starts with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season, Wang had a solid 2.33 ERA which would put him 2.33 runs better than the next best pitcher in the blue birds' rotation, R.A. Dickey who has a 4.66 ERA this year. His walks per nine innings ratio is stellar, registering just 1.6 BB/9; he has allowed just two homeruns this season.

Because of injury problems that have constantly derailed his once promising career, Wang went from having an over-powering sinking fastball when he first came to the majors from Taiwan in 2005 to having to rely on a sinker that lacks in velocity. It's caused Wang to not have the ability to consistently get batters out at the plate. But does the 33-year old hurler have the ability in him to start placing his pitches in a way that will get more hitters down on strikes?

The likely answer to that is no.

In 58 innings this year, Wang's K/9 ratio stands at a subpar 3.9/9. Although it's on par with his career average(4.1 K/9), that type of production for a player at such a late stage of his career may not be good enough to get it done in the majors. At the Triple-A level there aren't too many batters that can make you pay for allowing them to make contact nearly every at-bat, but at the major-league level, almost every batter can, and will, take advantage of that opportunity.

For Wang to be as effective as the Jays need him to be, the defense will have to be on their toes at all times. Wang won't allow many home runs, - his career HR/9 is 0.6 - but will allow balls to be put in play, as apparent by his low K/9 ratio.

If the defense plays mistakes free, Wang should provide the Jays a solid fourth/fifth in the rotation pitcher than can give them five/six solid innings an outing.

Michael Straw is a sportswriter who lives in Buffalo, NY and has been covering baseball, primarily at the Triple-A level, for two years. He began covering the Blue Jays in the fall of 2012, and has been published in multiple Western New York publications.

For Blue Jays and other sports news, follow Michael on Twitter @MikeStrawQCS.

*Stats courtesy Baseball-reference.com

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