I’ve decided CJ Wilson is awesome, regardless of his ups and downs. At first I was a little leery of the guy, I actually had a post here on Monkey with a Halo in which I considered whether I could like the guy based on his arrogant tendencies when he was with the Rangers. But he was looking pretty damn good at the time, so I accepted him on performance. Really, he had a fine first half of the season before something went very wrong. I mean, what happened to CJ?
I think CJ happened to CJ: his numbers returned to the norm. And it’s not such a bad norm, by the way. He is on a pace to pitch over 200 innings with 186 so far, which is tops on the staff. CJ’s WHIP this year is 1.31. His WHIP career average is 1.30. If ERA is relevant to you, his ERA so far this year is 3.69 compared to 3.64 over his career. Another good game and he’ll be exactly the pitcher the Angels signed.
But it seems like there have been three parts to CJ’s season: opening day until the All Star Break, after the break until August 29, and then the last three starts.
Part one was what Angel fans dreamed of in spring training, another ace next to Weaver and Haren. Pre All-Star CJ was 9-5 with a 2.43 ERA. Then part two, beginning after the All-Star break up until late August he was 0-4 with a 6.79 ERA. I’ve heard and seen different explanations for what was going on, but it’s pretty obvious that at times he’s not the same pitcher out of the stretch as with a full windup. Mark Langston says so, it must be truth. Of course there is the ERA with runners in scoring position of 14.61, so it’s more than just an impression.
But regardless of the men on base, CJ often seems to struggle to put batters away. He gets a couple of strikes and then begins to nibble. The offense gets him a big lead and he gets in trouble. I’m not sure if it’s in his head or his mechanics, but somehow he needs to turn things around. And he will, he will end up a better pitcher in Anaheim than he was in Texas.
Take the last three games for instance. Hopefully the beginning of the third part of the season, much closer to the first. Personally I think he’s worn down, like any SP this time of year. But the last three starts CJ has pitched 18.2 innings while giving up 17 hits. He has walked six batters and struck out 13. He has given up six runs over the three starts and is 3-0 during the period that makes or breaks the season. He’s going to be just fine.
Because CJ is CJ. The man I wasn’t sure about in the beginning is an Angel. He will not quit, he has faith and ability. If necessary he will re-create himself as a pitcher. He’s not of my generation but has my admiration. He’s open and honest, a good guy. I’m telling you he’s not a Kazmir or Zito, he’s going to be fine. Texas will rue the day he left.
Someday. Hopefully soon.