Thursday, April 8, 2010

C.J. Wilson shines in his first start

OK, so it wasn't first start - but it was his first start since 2005, and it went very, very well for the long-haired 29-year-old known to the Twitterverse as @str8edgeracer. Wilson pitched seven scoreless innings, striking out nine, walking two, and giving up just five hits.

As outlined by Matt Klaassen, a big key in Wilson's attempt to "go all Ryan Dempster" by going from a reliever to an above-average starter was that he sustain the uptick in his groundball rate that we witnessed in 2009. (It jumped up to 55.4% in '09 versus 49.3% in '10).

Mission accomplished... kind of. Wilson's batted ball data came out like this: 6 flyballs, 5 groundballs, and 4 line drives. Looks great, right? Well, 4 of those ground balls came in the first two innings. Wilson only induced one ground ball during innings three through seven. Normally, I wouldn't think anything of such a thing. However, since Wilson is transitioning from a reliever to a starter, it's worthwhile to note how his performance changes deep into the game.

As it turned out, Wilson became a much different pitcher as the game wore on. In the first two innings, he drew a lot of contact, and got a lot of ground balls. But in innings three through seven, he struck out eight batters and had a GB/FB ratio of 0.2.

Another interesting tidbit is Wilson's performance against right- and left-handed batters. Wilson has always dominated left-handed batters. Thursday was no different. He faced eight lefties, struck out half of them - and fifty percent of those he didn't strike out grounded out.

He was still good against righties but not as good. He struck out five, walked two, gave up four hits, and posted a 0.6 GB/FB ratio.

Normally, analyzing one start would be absurd - and maybe it still is in this case. Wilson's still got some work to do with respect to maintaining his extreme GBer profile deep into ball games and being consistently effective against RHBs, but if his first start is any indication, the Rangers look to have planted the seeds of something that could be very special.

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