C.J. Wilson is not slated in the No. 1 spot and he is not considered the top-line hurler on the Los Angeles Angels‘ staff, but if the Halos have any shot of competing well into September, he will have to be the leader of the rotation.
Wilson pitched brilliantly against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on Monday. He tossed eight innings, allowed one run on four hits, walked one and whiffed seven in the Angels 9-1 victory. Raul Ibanez and Howie Kendrick each drove in three in support of Wilson. Of course a lot of pitchers will have good outings against the Astros, but Wilson must use it and build off of it.
Wilson has to do this because Jered Weaver is no longer the pitcher most thought he would be when he posted a 20-win season in 2012. Weaver leaves the ball up way too much now for a pitcher who does not throw high-heat. Wilson has the kind of stuff to be an ace, but for him to take over this role, he has to command the strike zone more and spot his fastball low. Wilson looked like he could be an ace during his 2011 season for the Texas Rangers and at points last year for the Angels, but he has never put it all together.
The American League West is going to be a strong division with the top three other contenders all blessed with at least one strong pitcher. Yu Darvish gives Texas a Cy Young candidate, Felix Hernandez is still the “King” for the Seattle Mariners and the Oakland Athletics‘ Sonny Gray has all the makings of a star.
Wilson must be that player for the Angels. He needs to become the kind of pitcher other teams do not want to face, and he needs to do it now.