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How Much Longer Can the Yankees Let Chien-Ming Wang Start?

The Yankees lost to the Red Sox again last night, yet their utter inability to defeat their most heated rival just once was of secondary concern. That’s not to say that there aren’t all sorts of reasons that losing to Boston is a problem, not the least of which is that any discussion for the foreseeable future of the Yankees’ relative standing in the American League will be tagged with “ … but Boston owns them.” Yet not being able to beat Boston only hurts them in very specific circumstances, i.e., games against Boston. The more pressing issue now is that one of their starters, Chien-Ming Wang, still can’t get anybody out. And no matter how many times he’s won nineteen games in the past, there’s going to come a point (and soon) where they just can’t send him to the mound every five days.

As you’d expect, there are already calls to pull him from the rotation immediately. (To be fair, he's got his supporters, too.) But bouncing him from the rotation would be especially easy to execute, what with Phil Hughes ready to rejoin it after having done nothing to lose his spot in the first place. Joe Girardi says he’ll discuss the situation with Brian Cashman and pitching coach Dave Eiland before deciding whether Wang will make his next scheduled start. Which is a good sign — at least it doesn’t appear that he’ll be loyal to a fault, mounting losses be damned. Even Wang’s catcher, Jorge Posada, thinks that while Wang deserves another start because of what he’s already accomplished, “we need to see it soon.”

The problem for Wang is that this is already his second shot. (There was that matter of him starting the season with a 34.50 ERA, after all.) It’s certainly looking like if last night wasn’t Wang’s final start, it could very well prove to be his penultimate one. Phil Hughes would be wise to resume his starter's throwing program, ASAP.

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Photo: AP