If you had asked any baseball expert on June 14, 2008 to predict what Chien Ming Wang would be doing in 2010, I doubt a single one would have answered "pitching for the Nationals after putting up a 9+ ERA in 42 innings in 2009".
Alas, thanks to a freak foot injury incurred whilst running the bases during an interleague game on June 15, 2008, that is precisely the state of affairs in Wang-ville. Despite all the promise he showed in New York from 2005 through early 2008, the Wangster's days as a Yankee are over: it was announced yesterday that he signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Nationals.
90 seconds after the last time Wang was effective
There's no question that since that fateful day in Houston, the Wangster has made limited contributions to the team - he didn't pitch again in 2008, and when he returned in 2009 he went 1-6 with a 9.64 ERA before having season-ending shoulder surgery in July. Before the completely preventable injury (*cough* ADOPT THE DH RULE, NL JACKASSES *cough*), he was a vital part of the Yanks' rotation and on his way to becoming a bona fide ace. Before we bid him adieu and wish him luck in DC (where, ironically, he'll be forced to run the bases on a regular basis - let's hope he's more careful this time), let's take a gander at the highlights of his Yankee tenure:
2005: After being called up from AAA mid-season, the Wangster made 17 starts, putting up an 8-5 record with a 4.02 ERA. During the game against the Orioles on September 19, he tied a record for assists in a game by a pitcher with 9!
2006: A breakout year! 19-6 in 33 starts with a 3.63 ERA, a performance impressive enough to finish 2nd place in the Cy Young voting.
2007: Almost as good as the previous year, with a 19-7 record in 30 games started and a 3.70 ERA. He came 5 outs away from a perfect game against the Mariners in May and took a no-hitter against the BoSox into the 7th inning in August.
2008: In the brief time before the injury threw his career (and the Yanks' rotation) off track, the Wangster was putting together another nice year, with an 8-2 record and 4.07 ERA. When he won his 85th career start in April, he became the fastest starting pitcher to reach 50 wins since Dwight Gooden in 1986.
Had he not gotten injured, who knows how things might have turned out?
The moral of the story? Your choice: interleague play sucks, or the NL needs to get hip and join the DH train. Or both!