The Nationals organization continued its loose interpretation of the “Disabled List” by placing ineffective starter-turned-mop-up guy Chien-Ming Wang on the 15-day DL, retroactive to July 1st, with what is being labeled a “hip strain.”
Has anyone else heard or read anything in the beat reporter’s works over the past week or so about Wang suffering from a hip strain? I didn’t think so. I’ve read lots about mechanics, ineffectiveness and an inability to work efficiently out of the bullpen, but nothing about a hip issue.
So be it; it works for the team and allows them to stash Wang in extended spring training for weeks instead of granting him his release (which would be the only other way to get him off the active roster, his having no further minor league options available). I suppose it is fair to say that every professional baseball player has some sort of malady or another that could be diagnosed and serve as a reason to hit the DL. I once heard an NBA player, when asked while he was rehabbing when the last time he was healthy was and he reportedly responded; “High School.” Baseball is a grind; most players play through minor strains and bumps and bruises. Luckily for the team, this procedural move allows Wang to be shipped out while he’s at his least effectiveness, awaiting his real reason for still being with the organization:
See, that’s just about the day that Stephen Strasburg is likely to hit his 160 inning limit for 2012. He’s been averaging 5.8125 innings per start (93 IP in 16 starts). That gives him about 12 starts left. The team is thinking of making Strasburg the 5th starter in the rotation after the break. That’d put his first start back on 7/17 at home vs the Mets, and counting 11 more starts after that roughly has Strasburg making his last start on 9/12, meaning the team would need Wang back and effective on 9/19. Lots can happen between now and then of course; another starter could go down with injury and the team could have rain-outs that force their hands (they’re already looking at a call-up or a spot-start twice between now and mid September due to re-scheduled rainouts). Or, the team could lose one of their long-men out of the pen and need a mop-up guy in the interim.
Either way, I think Wang’s career with the team may be at an end. Ross Detwiler profiles more closely to the Mike Rizzo prototype pitcher; a power guy who gets lots of swings and misses. Wang has admirably come back from shoulder surgery but he just hasn’t been able to put it together in 2012, and when his signature sinker isn’t working, he’s batting practice fodder. Look for the team to make due with its current rotation as long as they can.