July 4, 2009

Wang leaves with shoulder strain in sixth

After serving up a two-run homer to Adam Lind in the sixth inning, Chien-Ming Wang left the game with what the Yankees announced as a right shoulder strain. He will undergo an MRI later today (via Tyler Kepner’s twitter).

Wang was only at 66 pitches when he left, and was looking a lot better than his final line looks: 5-1/3 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 1 K.

If he is placed on the DL, who replaces him in the rotation? It depends on how bad the injury really is.

Worst-case scenario: If Wang is out for the season, the Yankees should start to stretch out Phil Hughes’ appearances to prep him for a return to the rotation — similar to how the Yankees handled Joba Chamberlain in 2008. It’s really hard to ask a guy to go back-and-forth, but I think Hughes is capable of doing it.

Best-case scenario: If Wang only has to miss a few weeks, the Yankees should use Alfredo Aceves as a temporary replacement. Aceves has pitched multiple innings in 11 of 20 games he’s pitched this year, and was great when he started four games for the Yankees in 2008.

I consider the second option the best case scenario because Wang’s health is the main priority. It is extremely difficult to give up on a guy who has such an excellent history, and he’s still under 30 years old. If Wang can return to old Wang at any point this season, it is worth the wait. With him, CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, the Yankees would have a heck of a chance in any playoff series.

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