COMMENTARY | The 2013 season was supposed to be the season where the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim broke back into the playoffs and contended for a World Series title. Netting the best positional player available in the offseason by signing outfielder Josh Hamilton threw them in the position as early-contender darlings once again.
To fill the voids in the starting rotation, the Angels traded away slugger Kendrys Morales to the Seattle Mariners for starting pitcher Jason Vargas. Pitcher Tommy Hanson was also acquired via trade from the Atlanta Braves for relief pitcher Jordan Walden. To top it all off, general manager Jerry Dipoto signed starter Joe Blanton away from the Philadelphia Phillies for $15 million over two years.
To say these moves have blown up in the Angels' face would be an understatement.
Joe Blanton has posted a 5.66 ERA, has been on the hook for 13 losses, and has been demoted to the bullpen. Tommy Hanson has dealt with injuries and the death of his stepbrother. When healthy, he has not been great, either, with a 4.75 ERA. Jason Vargas has been the best of the trio with a 3.65 ERA and pitcher of the month award for May, but he has been on the disabled list since late June due to a blood clot that required surgery.
To compound the issues in the rotation, staff ace Jered Weaver missed almost two months due to a fracture in his left elbow suffered in an early-season game against the Texas Rangers.
Amidst all the turmoil within the Angels' rotation, C.J. Wilson has rebounded from a rocky 2012 season.
Wilson moved to 11-6 in his 2013 campaign after pitching seven strong innings to help the Angels down the Oakland Athletics on July 25.
Wilson has recorded a win in seven out of his past eight outings, and he has resembled the pitcher the Angels thought they signed away from the rival Texas Rangers in the 2011 offseason.
Wilson was dreadful after the All-Star break last season, posting a 5.54 ERA and 1.57 WHIP in 91 innings pitched. His problems on the mound may have been due to bone spurs that Wilson opted to pitch through rather than go on the disabled list. He ended up having arthroscopic surgery at the end of the 2012 season to remove the bone spurs.
Being healthy seems to have done the trick for Wilson, who has a 3.18 ERA this season and has given up just five runs in his last 36 innings pitched.
Looking under the hood some more, Wilson has increased his strikeouts per nine innings from 7.70 in 2012 to 8.25 in 2013. His walks per nine innings is also down from 4.05 last season to 3.43 this season, as well as home runs per nine innings from 0.85 in 2012 to 0.63 in 2013.
In addition, Wilson has a 2.3 WAR thus far this season, exceeding the 2.1 WAR he posted for all of last season. He should easily project to be worth over three wins if he continues his strong pitching.
James Patrick Lumalu lives in Los Angeles and has covered the MLB and NBA for Nationalist Magazine.
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- Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
- Jason Vargas