In the first half of last season, it certainly looked like the Los Angeles Angels got what they paid for when they signed C.J. Wilson as a free agent last winter. The Halos agreed to a five-year, $77.5 million dollar deal to pry him away from their division rivals, the Texas Rangers.
Overall, Wilson’s numbers on the season came out pretty solid. He finished with a 3.83 ERA, a 1.34 WHIP, a FIP barely over four, and 173 punchouts in just over 200 innings. Those numbers aren’t as good as they were in previous seasons, but they were still solid nonetheless.
But, had it not been for Wilson’s meltdown in the second half of the season, those numbers may have ended up a lot better. Wilson pitched the first half to a 2.43 ERA, a 3.67 FIP, and 88 strikeouts in just over 111 first half innings. That’s a Cy Young contender right there.
Then, the second half happened.
The second half of the season was one that almost saw Wilson fall out of the rotation, with some really brutal struggles. His ERA for the second half was over 5.50, while his FIP jumped up to 4.50. Opposing batters hit .279 off of him in the second half, as opposed to just .202 in the first.
Some of that is attributed to just bad luck, some attributed to Wilson just failing to be effective, and a lot of it is attributed to the bone spurs in his throwing elbow. Wilson had surgery to remove the spurs in the off-season and he comes into 2013 completely healthy.
This isn’t the first time Wilson had to have surgery to remove bone spurs from his throwing elbow. He had them removed in 2008, but that was when he was still a reliever. It will be interesting to see if the recovery is any different now that he’s solidified himself as a starter.
There’s no reason to think that Wilson won’t bounce back in 2013. If he can locate his pitches (aka cut down on his walks), he will be just fine. Expect to see a version of C.J. Wilson closer to that of 2011, when he put up a 2.81 ERA and over 200 strikeouts with the Rangers than the one we saw in the second half of last season.