With Cliff Lee unavailable to the Rangers until Game 3 of the ALCS, CJ Wilson will get the start for Texas in the series opener. Wilson faced the Yankees 3 times in 2010, and put up the following line:
0-1, 14.1 IP, 5.65 ERA, 1.88 WHIP, 1.67 SO/BB, .300/.408/.350
The Yankees did a pretty good job against Wilson, waiting him out by working the count and allowing him to beat himself. Let’s take a closer look at his 3 starts to see how the Yankees might want to go after him in the ALCS.
April 16, 5-1 Yankees
Wilson: L, 6 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 2 HBP, 5 SO, 112 pitches (66 strikes)
Wilson got himself into trouble in the first inning by walking Nick Johnson after Jeter singled. This will represent a pattern for Wilson, who often hurts himself with walks (4.1 BB/9). After a double play, Jeter scored on a passed ball. Wilson settled down until the 4th, when he sandwiched a HBP and a walk around a single to load the bases with no outs. With one out, an error allowed two runs to score, and a line single by Cervelli knocked in a third run. In the 6th, Wilson allowed 3 singles (2 infield) to score a run.
In all, this was a decent outing, in which some poor defense cost him a bit. However, his wildness created the situations in which those errors occurred, so he is at least partially to blame for how things turned out. When you put 12 runners on base in 6 innings, it is hard to blame the defense for your demise.
August 10, 4-3 Rangers
Wilson: ND, 5.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 0 HBP, 5 SO, 96 pitches (59 strikes)
Wilson was a bit better in this start, as he allowed just 8 baserunners in 5.1 innings. However, it is important to note that Kearns, Cervelli, Berkman (despite the lefty), and Pena played in this one while Teixeira, Cano, Granderson, and Posada sat. Kearns left 2 runners on in the 1st after a two out single and a walk. Wilson then cruised until the 4th, where two errors put runners at 2nd and 3rd with one out. However, Berkman and Cervelli stranded them there.
The Yankees broke through against CJ in the 5th, when Jeter walked with two outs and then went to 2nd on a botched rundown after a pickoff. Swisher doubled him home to score the Yankees first run. In the 6th, Wilson allowed a double to Kearns and then walked Berkman, after which he was pulled from the game. Darren O’Day entered and allowed one of those runners to score.
Again, while this was an adequate start, Wilson was ousted from the game with one out in the 6th despite facing a weakened Yankee lineup with a number of “easy” outs. Walks were once again an important factor in getting Wilson into trouble.
September 10, 6-5 Rangers
Wilson: ND, 3 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 0 HBP, 5 SO, 75 pitches (42 strikes)
The Yankees smacked Wilson around in this one, reaching base 9 times and crossing the plate 4 times in a span of 3 innings. Things started well for him, as he went 1-2-3 in the 1st, striking out 2 batters. In the 2nd, he loaded the bases on two walks and a single (with a wild pitch thrown in), but interspersed 3 strikeouts to escape without allowing a run. The 3rd inning was a disaster, and led to Wilson’s earliest exit of the season.
After a Jeter single and Swisher groundout, Wilson walked Teixeira to put runners at 1st and 2nd with one out. A-Rod doubled in both runs, and after another groundout, consecutive singles from Thames, Kearns, and Cervelli brought two more runs home. Wilson finally escaped the inning by retiring Brett Gardner, but Matt Harrison relieved him to start the 4th.
Overall, Wilson provided 2 decent starts and one awful one against the Yankees in 2010. He walked too many batters and was quite hittable, a combination that tends to be combustible against the Yankees. However, he was able to avoid allowing extra base hits, with the Yankees notching just 3 doubles in 71 plate appearances against Wilson.
Expect to see the Yankees take a similar approach in Game 1 as they did against CJ during the season. The goal will be to let Wilson dig his own grave by putting people on base, and then hope to come through with some timely hits. At worst, they should be able to get into the Texas bullpen before the 7th inning.