Saturday, July 28, 2012
C.J. Wilson and the art of coping
By Mark Saxon
C.J. Wilson went 0-for-July after losing to the Rays, but said he hopes August will be better.
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Because the Angels signed C.J. Wilson as a free agent this past winter, it's easy to forget he's not exactly a sage when it comes to being a starting pitcher.
Until 2010, Wilson had never started a major league game, having pitched out of the Texas Rangers' bullpen from 2006 through 2009.
He's still dealing with all kinds of new experiences, the latest being the irritation of watching so much of his work go to waste. Wilson hasn't exactly been dominant -- he tends to throw too many balls to work deep into games -- but he certainly has pitched better than to be shut out without a win since June 26.
He has allowed three earned runs or fewer in five of those six intervening starts, four of which have been Angels losses.
"It's a little bit odd, you know what I mean? It's not what I'm used to," Wilson said. "The last couple of years, I've gone out there and won one or two or three or four or five games a month, so July was rough, but August is going to be better and everything averages out."
The Angels out-hit Tampa 5-4 on Saturday but left eight runners on base and, consequently, lost 3-0. It looked like a momentary blip for a hot offense (Tampa pitcher Matt Moore has some of the most devastating stuff in the American League), but it seems Wilson has been getting most of the bad luck this month. Not only haven't the Angels scored, but they have made a handful of crucial errors behind him.
Wilson seems to have this thing in pretty good perspective. He said he chatted with fellow Angels starter Dan Haren about what it's like to pitch with scant run support. Early in the season, the Angels were shut out repeatedly with Haren and Ervin Santana on the mound. Santana has struggled ever since. Haren has pitched better of late but is having a subpar season.
"You just have to sort of be robotic and just go out there and do your job, throw as many innings as you can and try to keep your team in the game," Wilson said.
Starting pitching should be a strength for this team -- maybe even the driving force to a pennant -- after it added 2009 Cy Young winner Zack Greinke in a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday. But the Angels still are waiting for the start-after-start efficiency that characterizes the deepest rotations.
For now, the Angels are sticking with Santana (4-10, 6.00 ERA), but manager Mike Scioscia admitted after Saturday's game that Santana's status is now very much game by game. The team optioned veteran reliever Hisanori Takahashi (who is now one of the highest-paid players in the Pacific Coast League) in order to keep Garrett Richards on hand as Santana's potential replacement.
Had the team optioned Richards, he would have had to spend 10 days at Triple-A barring an injury in the Angels' rotation.
He's not the only Angels pitcher stuck in a holding pattern.