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Thursday, July 11, 2013
Halo Effect: Wilson finding his confidence

By Kenton Wong
ESPN Stats & Information

AP Photo/Jae C. HongC.J. Wilson got off to a rough start to his season, but adjustments have keyed his recent success
Wednesday marked one of the best all-around games for the Los Angeles Angels this season as they outscored the Chicago Cubs by 11 runs -- their second-highest differential of the season behind only a 12-0 shutout of the Seattle Mariners in May.

The offense came up with a season-high five home runs including the first two-homer game for Josh Hamilton as an Angel. But not to be lost in the fireworks was another outstanding start by C.J. Wilson.

Warming up with summer
After having an ERA just south of 4.00 in the first two months of the season, Wilson has a 2.60 ERA since the start of June. In four of his last five starts, the left-hander has given up one earned run or fewer. So has Wilson made some adjustments? Or has it merely been a result of better luck on balls in play.

Fast and furious
Pitch selection-wise, Wilson has regained confidence in his fastball in the last six weeks. In the first two months of the season, opponents were hitting .281 against it, causing Wilson to shy away from throwing it (47 percent of pitches). Since the start of June though, he has thrown fastballs 55 percent of the time as opponents have hit .194 against the pitch.

One of Wilson's most effective starts came against the Mariners on June 19 he threw a season-high 74 fastballs, inducing 13 outs and giving up no hits on the pitch.

Back in control
Another adjustment for Wilson has been in how he has pitched to right-handed hitters. Early in the season, 30 percent of Wilson's pitches in the strike zone to righties were to the inner-third of the plate. He was punished for these mistakes to the tune of a .542 slugging percentage.

Since the beginning of June, 24 percent of Wilson's pitches to righties have been in this location.

Friday's matchup
Williams (LAA) vs Saunders (SEA)
Joe Saunders
Jerome Williams
Friday's opposing starter is former Angel Joe Saunders, who has had a very inconsistent season. In 10 of Saunders' 18 starts this season he has give up one run or fewer, but in five other starts he has given up six or more runs.

The Angels faced the "good" version of Saunders in their only previous time facing him this season. Saunders gave up one run and six hits in eight innings but took the loss in a 1-0 Angels win.