“Each time he’s toed that rubber, he’s gotten a little better,” Nationals outfielder Jonny Gomes said after Wang collected his first win since Aug. 16. “It’s turning into a pretty good success story for him. That aside, he’s having some success. If he just came back and pitched, that would be pretty awesome. To come back and pitch at this level and have success, that’s icing on the cake.”
Wang has dealt with several setbacks in Washington with his surgically-repaired right shoulder, but he remained determined to keep working and has begun to repay the Nationals for their patience. He hasn’t allowed more than four runs in any of his 10 starts and went a season-high 6 2/3 innings against the Marlins. Wang probably would’ve finished the seventh if he hadn’t surrendered a two-out, two-run homerun to Brett Hayes.
But Johnson has seen enough of Wang over the past year to think that the Nationals should bring him back. “I love his competitiveness. That comes out any time he’s in a little jam. As far as I’m concerned, ever since he’s started throwing again, he’s a keeper,” Johnson said. “I think the main thing is he’s starting to trust that he’s healthy. He’s throwing more quality pitches. The big thing is a pitcher’s confidence that he can do what he wants to do with the ball and location and not have a problem injury-wise.”
Drew Storen recorded his 38th save of the season, but couldn’t contain his excitement over how far Wang has come. “It’s been unbelievable see, coming back from that injury and taking so much time off, and the improvement he’s made. The sinker is there, the velocity is getting there and he’s doing a good job,” he said. “He’s been unbelievable. He’s been extremely consistent, honestly. He’s made a lot of progress in the handful of games he’s been back. His sinker is sinking more. He’s getting the velocity back and throwing a good slider. He’s going to be tough to hit when he can sink it like that.”
First baseman Chris Marrero, who knocked in two runs on Sunday, was with Wang during his rehabilitation stint with Triple-A Syracuse this summer and has watched him progress. “He’s awesome,” Marrero said. “I just think the more he pitches, the better he’s going to be. He’s coming off an injury, just like anyone, he’s got to get used to it. He’s doing great. From what I’ve seen, it looks like nothing was wrong with him.
“He’s been good,” he said. “His ball has tremendous sink and gets a lot of outs. He made one mistake, I guess, to the guy who hit the home run but he threw awesome. You can’t say anything bad about him. He was locating his pitches. Pitched great.”
FROM THE POST
Chien-Ming Wang was in fine form while helping the Nationals snap a f-ve game losing streak against the Marlins.
Manager Davey Johnson told Adam Kilgore that he has too much on his mind now to think about whether or not he’s returning as manager next season.