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Nats officially sign Wang, What will it take for him to be successful?

The Nationals announced today what we had long expected, they have officially signed Chien-Ming Wang:

This is confirmed: Chien-Ming Wang’s contract will pay him $2 million in 2010. He can earn up to $3 million in incentives. Also, he’s already passed a physical — yet another sign that this deal was days in the making.”  - Chico Harlan, Nationals Journal.

Analysis:

The base salary is a little bit higher than I would have liked to see. Wang is a player who has been a 20-game talent in the past but the potential for him to fall apart following shoulder surgery this season is far higher than him matching his old form. $2 million for a player that holds a high risk of pitching less than 50 major league innings next season is a bit high, but it’s nothing to really fret about.

For the Nationals, however, the real key to getting Wang on track will not only be making sure he’s healthy, but also to help him regain the mechanics that made him successful from 2006-2007. As you can see, he was a groundball master in that span, but something cause him to be way less successful in the previous few years:

2006: 19-6, 3.63 ERA, 3.91 FIP, 62.8 GB% (18.8 FB)
2007: 19-7, 3.70 ERA, 3.79 FIP, 58.4 GB% (13.0 FB)
2008:  8-2, 4.07 ERA, 3.74 FIP, 55.0 GB% (8.6 FB)
2009:  1-6, 9.64 ERA, 5.38 FIP, 53.3 GB% (-16.4 FB)

Some believe that the key to getting the movement back in Wangs fastball is by re-adjusting his delivery. Many scouts have pointed out that in his most recent outings Wang’s release point has gotten progressively higher. If the Nationals can lower his release point, and regain some of the heavy sinking action on his fastball, he may be one of the elite ground ball pitchers in the game yet again. If not, it won’t matter much if his shoulder is healthy or not.

A look at the rotation:

After this signing the Nationals now have many options on who to fill out the starting rotation with. While a lot of them may be question marks, there certainly are a lot of them. Here’s a look:

-John Lannan 
-Jason Marquis
-Garret Mock
-Scott Olsen
-CM Wang
-Craig Stammen
-Shairon Martis
-Ross Detwiler
-J.D. Martin
-Jordan Zimmermann
-Stephen Strasburg
-Matt Chico

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