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Entries in c.j. wilson (12)


Strasburg to start opening day plus more

"Not that there was any uncertainty about it, but Davey Johnson made it official nonetheless this morning: Stephen Strasburg will start Opening Day for the Nationals.

"I guess you want me to say it," the 70-year-old manager said. "He's going to be my Opening Day starter. You drug it out of me."

Johnson's selection of Strasburg is hardly a surprise. The right-hander got the Opening Day nod last season in Chicago, then went 15-6 with a 3.16 ERA and 197 strikeouts before his much-debated shutdown in early September after 159 1/3 innings."


CJ Wilson effective in off-day assignment

"For most major league veterans, spring training is a pretty low-key affair. All you have to do is get a little work in, break a sweat occasionally, and fine-tune a few things for the regular season.

But even by those standards Tuesday was a relaxing day for left-hander C.J. Wilson, who pitched four innings against a team made up primarily of minor leaguers on what was, for the rest of the Angels, a day off.

"We have to make it like a real game even though we're just facing our own guys," Wilson said. "So I'm trying to go in and kind of get rah-rah and have fun. 'Let's go! Let's beat these Angels!'"


Carl Crawford faces live major league pitching

"Carl Crawford faced relievers Kenley Jansen andJ.P. Howell on Tuesday, marking the first time he took live batting practice against major league pitchers since he was shut down two weeks ago.

“A step in the right direction,” said Crawford, who resumed working out last week.

Crawford, who is recovering from reconstructive elbow surgery, was encouraged by how he felt.

“Your timing at this point is never going to be the way you want it, but it wasn’t as far off as I would expect it to be, either,” he said."


Carlos Gomez agrees to deal with Brewers

"Outfielder Carlos Gomez and the Milwaukee Brewers have agreed to a $28.3 million, four-year contract.

The 27-year-old outfielder would have been eligible for free agency after this season. He had agreed to a $4.3 million, one-year deal in January, and the new contract includes salaries of $7 million in 2014, $8 million in 2015 and $9 million in 2016."


Hochevar transitioned to bullpen

"Right-hander Luke Hochevar, eternally inconsistent as a starter, is shifting, at least temporarily, to the Royals’ bullpen.

Manager Ned Yost announced the move Wednesday morning prior to a game against Seattle at Surprise Stadium.

“I think it makes us a better team,” Yost said. “I think it makes us a stronger team. It gives us a better chance to win every day. With three weeks left, I want to get him acclimated to that role.”


Casey Kelly might need "Tommy John" surgery

"The already cloudy picture regarding Padres starting pitching turned darker Wednesday afternoon when it Padres manager Bud Black confirmed that right-hander Casey Kelly has had tests on his right elbow and could be a candidate for elbow reconstruction surgery.

“Anything is possible,” the Padres manager said of the possibility that Kelly would be the Padres pitcher to have “Tommy John” surgery in the last 10 months.

“It is that part of the elbow that we’re concerned about,” Black continued. “The doctors are concerned about what the tests looked like. There’s going to be a lot of discussion between Kelly and his family. They’ll probably want a second opinion.”


Dodgers hoping plasma injection helps Greinke

"Zack Greinke has a sore elbow and Chad Billingsley doesn't, neither of which the Dodgers really expected this spring.

What they have in common is that Billingsley's partially torn elbow ligament responded last year to injections of platelet-rich plasma, and now the Dodgers are waiting to see if a similar injection, along with anti-inflammatory medication like cortisone, will have the same beneficial result with Greinke.

The Dodgers have been using the treatment since 2008, when reliever Takashi Saito responded well to the procedure as has Billingsley, avoiding Tommy John surgery."


Brennan Boesch released

"The Detroit Tigers have released outfielder Brennan Boesch, the club announced Wednesday morning.

The Tigers should have nontendered the 27-year-old outfielder last December, but they thought they could trade him. As it turned out, they weren't getting any bites, so cutting bait now was the right move. Boesch's contract for the 2013 season was worth $2.3 million. By cutting him now, the Tigers only owe him a sixth ($383,333) of that.

Also note that the Tigers have Austin JacksonTorii HunterAndy DirksQuintin Berry andAvisail Garcia as outfield options, so there's no need for Boesch.

Boesch finished fifth in AL Rookie of the Year voting in 2010 and then hit .283/.341/.458 with 16 homers in just 115 games in 2011, but last season was a different matter. Boesch regressed to .240/.286/.372 with 12 homers in 503 plate appearances. He struck out 104 times while walking just 26. For those into the advanced metrics, Boesch's WAR was 2.3 in 2011 and negative-1.4 last season."




Wilson a Halo, Too

It's not often the case (OK, it has never been the case before today) that a player signs for nearly $80 million and he's not even the biggest free agent signing of the day for his team. But that's the situation left-hander C.J. Wilson happily finds himself in after agreeing to a five-year, $77.5 million deal to leave the Rangers for the division rival Angels. With Jered Weaver, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana already in the fold, L.A. might just have the best starting rotation in the game.

A former fifth-round pick who came up through the minors as a starter but pitched out of the bullpen in the majors until two years ago, Wilson turned in a quality first season as a starter in 2010 and then performed like an ace in 2011. He struck out 7.5 batters per nine innings, issued 4.1 BB/9 and had a 3.56 Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) in 204 innings in his first go-around as a starter, and then whiffed 8.3 per nine, walked 3 per nine and compiled a 3.24 FIP in 223.1 innings this past year. As noted in August, Wilson's improvement was the product of getting more swings from right-handed hitters on cutters and sliders thrown out of the zone. Righties had a .333 on-base percentage against Wilson in 2010, but just a .296 OBP in 2011.

Another key to Wilson's game is his tendency to keep the ball down. The lefty has a 49.4 percent ground ball rate since 2010, versus the 45 percent average for starters. He prefers to hammer hitters low in the zone instead of above the belt:

Frequency of Wilson's pitch location, 2010-2011

Wilson has thrown just 23 percent of his pitches to the upper third of the zone over the past two years, compared to the 28 percent average for starters. His percentage of low pitches was 44 percent, well above the 39 percent average. And, as Wilson's in-play slugging percentage by pitch location shows, he's at his best when he stays low on the zone:

Opponent in-play slugging percentage by pitch location vs. Wilson, 2010-2011

As a starter, Wilson has allowed a .419 slugging percentage on high pitches, a .391 slugging percentage on middle pitches, and a .245 slugging percentage on low pitches. Keeping the ball low allowed Wilson to serve up just 0.5 HR/9 despite pitching in a park that increases home runs hit by left-handed batters by 19 percent and 14 percent for right-handed hitters. Angel Stadium is much more forgiving, with a 90 park factor for lefty homers and a 93 park factor for right-handed HR.

Wilson might not have one particular skill that stands out, but his blend of punch outs, ground balls and passable control has made him one of the better starters in the game since 2010. Wilson ranks 10th in WAR over that time frame, according to Baseball-Reference, sandwiched between Jon Lester and Gio Gonzalez. And, unlike most free agent starters, the 31-year-old's arm doesn't have a ton of mileage on it due to his time spent in relief (he has thrown 708 regular-season innings in the majors, and 52.1 during the playoffs). The Hardball Times' Oliver projects Wilson as a 3.8 WAR pitcher in 2012. If we apply the same aging and salary inflation assumptions made in the Pujols post, then Wilson would be worth about $76 million during the life of his contract, or nearly a perfect match to what he'll be paid.

Considering the substantial upgrade that Wilson provides over the likes of Jerome Williams, Garrett Richards or Brad Mills and the boost to L.A.'s playoff odds that those added wins to the roster provide, this move looks solid for Jerry Dipoto and company.


FA Wilson Would Miss His Infield D in Texas

Now that CC Sabathia has reworked his contract with the Yankees, C.J. Wilson is the best remaining starter (non-Yu Darvish division) on the free agent market. The 31-year-old lefty scuffled in the postseason, but he ranks 24th in Fielding Independent Pitching and ninth in Wins Above Replacement among qualified starting pitchers since he converted from the bullpen two years ago.

Wilson recently told Paul Salfen of Scorecard Daily that he could easily see himself staying in Texas:

"Yeah, there’s a great chance because I like it here and I’ve won here." He added later, "It’s now all about figuring out how all of the guys on the team – not just me – there’s Elvis, Nelson, Josh, Ian – a lot of guys have contractual things that are coming up. I think one thing the Rangers want me to know is what they’re planning on doing with all of these other guys in the long term. So that gives me confidence that we’re going to keep winning."

With Sabathia no longer an option and presumably lots of revenue coming in due to two straight World Series appearances and a 10,000 fan-per-game increase in attendance over the past few seasons, the Rangers have plenty of reasons to lock up Wilson. But, in addition to playing for a winning club, Wilson has one big reason to stay: the Rangers' elite infield defense helps him out greatly.

Wilson induces a lot of ground balls, as his 49.4 GB% over the past two years is well above the 45.3 percent average for starters since 2010. And Texas' infield D, with 2011 Gold Glove winner Adrian Beltre at third, shortstop Elvis Andrus and second baseman Ian Kinsler, does a fantastic job at converting those grounders into outs.  

Over the 2010-2011 seasons, Wilson has a .211 opponent batting average on ground balls hit. For comparison, the big league average for starters over that time frame is .239. Only Toronto's Ricky Romero (.189 BABIP on grounders) and Oakland's Trevor Cahill (.192) had lower BABIP figures on grounders among starters with at least 500 batters faced.

Beltre, Andrus and Kinsler not only keep hitters from reaching base on grounders, but they help Wilson eliminate them if they do get on first. Rangers fielders turned a double play in 14 percent of their opportunities with Wilson on the mound in 2010, and 20 percent of the time in 2011. The MLB average is 11 percent. Wilson's 52 total double plays over the past two years rank fourth among starters, behind just Atlanta's Tim Hudson, Romero and Sabathia.

With comparatively little mileage on his arm and improved performance against right-handed batters, Wilson should succeed no matter where he lands. But you'd be hard-pressed to find a better destination than the one he has called home for the past seven seasons.