Countdown to Spring Training: 19

In 2005, a young pitcher emerged for the Yankees. Along with Shawn Chacon and Aaron Small, he helped push the Yankees into the playoffs. Once in the playoffs, he was a tough-luck loser. He pitched 6.2 innings and allowed just one run on four hits. In 2006, he contributed big time. Chien-Ming Wang posted a 125 ERA+ and gave up a league low 0.5 HR/9. Where does this fit in with regards to our countdown? Well, Wang won 19 games that year (which led the AL). Let's break down that total. Wang had his most wins against the Rays, going 3-0 against them. He beat the Orioles, Red Sox, Mariners, Rangers, and Blue Jays two times each. He won one game against the Indians; Tigers; Marlins; Royals; Twins; and A's. He failed to record a win against the Angels; Braves; White Sox; and Nationals (though he was very close to a CG against the Nats, but a Ryan Zimmerman walk off homer begged to differ. . 11 of CMW's wins came at home (3.03 ERA) and eight came on the road (4.35 ERA). He won nine games in the first half of the year (4.00 ERA), he won nine games; in the second half (3.13 ERA), he won ten. His winningest months were May, June, and August, in which he won four games each.

Win number one didn't come until Wang's third start number three. He pitched brilliantly in the Metrodome, allowing just two runs (one earned) against the Twins in seven innings. Wang didn't walk anyone and struck out eight, his season high (and only game in which he struck out more than five batters!).

Win number 19 took place on September 27, Wang's last start of the season. He wasn't great--he gave up ten hits and four runs in six innings--but he still managed the win thanks to the Yankees putting up 16 against the O's with homers by Bobby Abreu, Johnny Damon, Jorge Posada, Jason Giambi, and Robinson Cano.

Wang recorded his signature win of the season on July 28 at Yankee Stadium II. On that night, Wang recorded (to date) his only career complete game shutout. In the nine masterful innings, he allowed just four baserunners: two hits (one each by Julio Lugo and Ty Wigginton) and two walks (one each by Carl Crawford and Greg Norton). The Devil Rays only struck out one time (Lugo), but that didn't matter. True to his heavy-sinker approach, Wang got the Rays to ground out 17 times in the victory.

In 2007, Wang repeated his 2006 performance, again notching 19 wins. Since 2007, he's won just 15 games total. It all fell apart on June 15, 2008 (my 21st birthday) in Houston. Ugh. We'll always have 2006 and 2007, CMW.