TORONTO – The Chien-Ming Wang experiment in Toronto is over.
The Blue Jays starter, a former Yankees star thrust back into the big leagues due to Toronto’s injury woes, was roughed up for the second consecutive game on Tuesday and designated for assignment afterward. He pitched only 1.2 innings in the Blue Jays’ eventual 7-6 loss to the Detroit Tigers.
“He struggled. The last two outings, he just couldn’t get out of the second inning,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “He couldn’t get any outs, that’s why we had to go to the bullpen. We built that 4-0 lead, we were still in the game.”
This ugly start came exactly five days after Wang pitched 1.2 innings against the Boston Red Sox and gave up seven earned-runs on six hits in a game the Blue Jays eventually lost 7-4.
Wang made five starts since signing with the Blue Jays on June 11. He was brilliant in his second start, shutting out the Texas Rangers over seven innings, and followed that up with another quality start against the Baltimore Orioles. But since then, he has been downright awful.
Like his start in Boston, the Tigers did all their damage against Wang in the second inning. Wang’s first inning in Boston was perfect, but on Tuesday there were signs of things to come when he got into a jam in the first but escaped without giving up any runs.
In the bottom of the second, with the Blue Jays already leading 4-0 thanks to a big first inning, Wang imploded. The Tigers scored six earned runs on seven hits including a three-run homer by Miguel Cabrera. Wang was pulled with the Blue Jays suddenly trailing 6-4. In all, the Tigers sent 11 batters to the plate in the inning.
Wang didn’t factor into the final decision, but he was bad and the team didn’t waste any time sending him packing.
“He competes, he’s a real pro,” Gibbons said. “We hope he chooses to stay, he can pitch for us down in Triple-A and have a shot to come back. He can choose to be a free agent, but I’d love to have him around.”
Wang said he would decide his future “today or tomorrow.”
There’s no immediate solution to help the rotation, however. The Blue Jays announced they were recalling Todd Redmond from Buffalo. There’s no sign of either Brandon Morrow or J.A. Happ returning from injury an time soon and the Blue Jays are already using reliever Esmil Rogers as a starter.
There was chatter on social media about calling up Double-A prospect Marcus Stroman, the Blue Jays No. 4-ranked prospect, according to MLB.com. It helped that on Tuesday Stroman struck out 13 in 6.2 innings, despite losing, for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. But the last time the Blue Jays called on a Double-A prospect to start in the big leagues, Sean Nolin was lit up for six runs in 1.1 innings. The Blue Jays’ pitching cupboard is bare but Stroman will have to continue to wait his turn, probably for the better.
Meanwhile, the Blue Jays have been hit by the injury bug on offence as well. Edwin Encarnacion, Adam Lind, and J.P. Arencibia all missed Tuesday’s game with various, nagging injuries. They are all considered day-to-day but the injuries – combined the Blue Jays’ eight-man bullpen – led to an unorthodox lineup featuring Munenori Kawasaki as the designated hitter.
After Wang was DFA’d the big-league roster spot could have gone to a batter until some of the regulars return. But they need a starter for Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Twins, and Gibbons hinted that it will be Redmond.
Redmond has made two appearances for the Blue Jays, but has not made a start. The team has already used 12 starters this year, and we’ve just passed the mid-way point of the season. It appears Redmond will be lucky No. 13.