During the regular season, Texas Rangers starter C.J. Wilson served up just 16 home runs in 223.1 innings pitched. During the playoffs, however, the lefty with the blue glove has been left black and blue by the long ball. Wilson has surrendered six homers in 15.2 innings, including three in last night's 7-5 loss to the Detroit Tigers. While Wilson rarely left the ball up in the zone during the regular season, he's missing high in the playoffs and paying for it.
Take a look at Wilson's pitch location during the regular season. He mostly threw around hitters' knees:
Wilson located 45 percent of his pitches down in the zone, and just 23 percent high in the zone. Now, look at his location during the 2011 playoffs:
Wilson has thrown 38 percent of his pitches low in the zone during the postseason, and 29 percent of them high. Those high pitches are the ones that batters have launched into orbit. Check out the pitch location of Wilson's playoff home runs:
Wilson is at his best when he's hammering hitters at the knees. In his two seasons as a starter, Wilson has a .244 slugging percentage on low pitches (far below the .328 league average over that time frame) and a .426 slugging percentage on high pitches (.401 league average). If he gets another start this postseason, he'll need to re-discover the low approach that has made him a top-notch starter and a soon-to-be mega-millionaire.