Tag:C.J. Wilson
Posted on: July 22, 2011 9:35 pm

Prediction: 2011 AL Cy Young

Yesterday five of the American League's top Cy Young candidates were on display. As we approach the final two months of the regular season, each start takes on more and more importance. So who's the favorite at this point?
C.J. Wilson and the Texas Rangers took on Jered Weaver and the Los Angeles Angels in the rubber game of a crucial three-game set. Both aces were flawless: Weaver pitched seven shutout innings, Wilson tossed a complete game. The lone run came in the second inning when outfielder Endy Chavez - known for his defensive ability - dropped a Mike Trout fly ball, allowing second baseman Howie Kendrick to score. Weaver lowered his ML-best ERA to 1.81.
Over 2,000 miles away, the Tampa Bay Rays were able to salvage a split of a four-game series with the Yankees. C.C. Sabathia took on James Shields in what was a matchup of two of the game's premier hurlers. Sabathia went the distance, allowing two runs on five hits. Shields was equally brilliant, his only blunder a Robinson Cano rbi double in the eighth inning.
We went west, then east. Now we're talking central. The Tigers sent ace Justin Verlander to the hill as they attempted to take first place in the AL Central. With his blistering fastball and devastating off speed stuff, Verlander threw eight innings of one-run ball.
At this point, Jered Weaver has to be considered the front runner. The LA ace is 13-4 with a 1.81 ERA. Although his numbers are impressive, what furthers Weaver's case is the fact that he plays for a team ranked 24th in the league in total runs scored.
Doesn't this situation seem all too familiar? Last season, Felix Hernandez won the coveted award in the American League. The Mariners scored a paltry 513 runs all season, good for last in the league. The Angels may not be the Seattle Mariners - they are actually capable of outscoring the Los Angeles Galaxy - but they are no offensive juggernaut.
As the Angels attempt to dethrone the Rangers in the AL West down the stretch, much of the burden will fall on Weaver's shoulders. If he is truly a Cy Young-worthy, LA will be in the race until the season's final days. The halos still have ten games against the defending American League champions before the end of the regular season.
Last night was impressive: the 2x All Star beat one of the league's best offenses with virtually no run support. But Jered Weaver will need more of these types of performances if he wants to become the second straight Cy Young Award winner from the AL West.
Posted on: June 8, 2011 8:12 am
Edited on: June 8, 2011 5:07 pm

The Texas Rangers: Relievers Turned Starters

At the 2007 trade deadline, the Rangers traded closer Eric Gagne to the Boston Red Sox. To fill his role, Texas went to their oft-called upon set up man from the previous year. C.J. Wilson believed he had the stuff to become a top of the line starting pitcher. But, in '07, he'd have to settle for the bullpen. In 2008, despite posting an ERA over six, Wilson converted 24 of 28 save opportunities. The next year, due to a shaky '08 campaign, the California native was shunted to the set-up role; Frank Francisco became the team's closer. Although he was pitching well, Wilson knew he was capable of more.
Last year, Texas made an improbable run to the World Series. A big reason why: C.J. Wilson emerged as one of the best starting pitchers in the American League. He went 15-8 with an impressive 3.35 ERA. The same man who fought dearly for a spot in the rotation during spring training ended up leading his team in both wins and ERA.
After the departure of ace Cliff Lee in free agency, it was clear that Wilson would be Texas' No. 1 coming into this year. The 30-year-old, who advocates a "straight edge" way of life, hasn't disappointed: 5-3, 3.32 ERA in 2011.
It worked once for the Rangers, so why not give it another shot? That's exactly what they did. As a reliever in 2010, Alexi Ogando went 4-1 with a 1.30 ERA. In spring training, Texas lost Tommy Hunter - their ALCS game 4 starter - to injury. In need of another starter, the Rangers looked to their impressive 27-year-old reliever. Thus far, it's hard not to say that Alexi Ogando has been the best starter for the AL West leaders. In 11 starts, Ogando is 6-0 with a 2.20 ERA.
Without Lee, Texas' pitching was expected to struggle this year. Early season injuries to outfielders Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz only increased the burden on this supposedly "weak" rotation. The Rangers' young staff has exceeded expectations, currently ranked tenth in team ERA and fourth in wins. All of Texas' starters have been impressive; but the best? Alexi Ogando: a converted reliever.
With Hamilton and Cruz back in the lineup, Texas is improving; winning their last four series and opening up a 2.5 game lead in the always tight AL West. This team will score enough runs, you can be sure of that. But, come October, the question will be whether or not the rotation is formidable enough to make another deep postseason run. The answer to that will fall largely on the shoulders of the two converted relievers: C.J. Wilson & Alexi Ogando.

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