Is C.J. Wilson a 4th starter on a championship team?

Is C.J. Wilson a 4th starter on a championship team?

Is C.J. Wilson a 4th starter on a championship team?

Someone in the Yankees organization thinks so in column by Joel Sherman in the NY Post. 

This statement caused a small stir after I quoted it in column about the Yankees offseason.

I am not a big fan of Wilson and certainly wouldn’t give him a multi-year deal, much less one for $100 million dollars. A week from now the Rangers may be World Series Champs and he is their ace, so you could argue that statement is primed to be blown away. Let’s forget the rhetoric and dive into the numbers.

In the spirit of full disclosure I haven’t seen Wilson pitch consistently, but his performance in last year’s ALCS and in the postseason this year has left me less than impressed.

Since entering the rotation last season, Wilson is a combined 31-15 with a 3.14 ERA. When you rank him amongst other starters his ERA+ of 140 is fifth in the American League. As a matter of fact, his number compare very favorably to Yankees ace CC Sabathia.

So should the Yankees let Sabathia and his ever expanding waistline walk and sign the younger and potentially cheaper Wilson?

During that two year period he’s made 28 starts against three of the poorer hitting teams in baseball; Seattle, Oakland, and Anaheim. In those starts he’s pitched 176 innings and allowed 60 earned runs for an ERA of 3.07. In his other 39 starts his ERA was 3.19. Not much of a difference, but his postseason performance is what concerns me the most. Going into the World Series, he is 1-4 with a 5.40 ERA in 7 playoff starts. Ultimately, he will be judged by the postseason if he pitched in New York.

It also is reasonable to assume that if the bright lights of the playoffs bother him, how will he handle Yankees-Red Sox, the Subway Series, and other games that are “events” when pitching here. Yes, he pitched well against the Yankees and Boston this year, but that is one start in a moment in time. He will be asked to potentially pitch 4 to 6 times against the Sox in a season. Big difference, especially with a lot on the line.

Its probably is harsh to call Wilson a “4th starter on a championship team;” the numbers don’t bear that out. I still wouldn’t feel comfortable investing $100 million in the guy if he can’t give you his best when you need it the most.

Wilson is a very good pitcher on a weak free agent market that will get top five starter money. Despite his two year run I don’t believe he is worth that kind of investment. And the fact that it’s just a two-year run should make teams wary as well.

This could be a case where we are underrating and overrating the player at the same time. Underrating his regular season, but the money that he will be paid for those 32 starts will not match up the performance necessary when the lights shine the brightest.

Due to the Yankees history with Carl Pavano, A.J. Burnett, and Jaret Wright I would simply stay away.

By Mike Silva
Wednesday, 19 Oct 2011


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