After their miraculous September, the Tampa Bay Rays pounded C.J. Wilson and the Texas Rangers in Arlington this evening to kick off the postseason. The Rangers' ace was outclassed by a fellow southpaw making just his second career big league start.
Matt Moore allowed just two hits over seven innings, while Wilson gave up eight runs (six earned) in five innings. If the Rays keep playing like they did tonight, this may have been Wilson's final start before his free agency this offseason. Not really the best way to go out.
Let's think about the teams that will probably be courting C.J. Wilson. The Yankees, because their rotation isn't very deep. The Red Sox will be looking to bounce back from their collapse and their starting pitching was flat out awful in September.
But one thing that has to be considered is this: Does Wilson want to play for a big market team? Being in the spotlight isn't for everybody, and he's spent his entire career in Texas. And he surely can make plenty of money by re-signing or going somewhere like St. Louis or Detroit.
What do all the teams I mentioned have in common? They're playoff teams. Their goal every season is to win a World Series. When investing in a top-flight starting pitcher, teams want to know that the success will carry over to the postseason. Statistically, Wilson had a great season. He's been great since he became a starter two seasons ago.
But does he perform when it matters the most? Last season was his first taste of the postseason. In four starts, he went 1-2 with a 3.70 ERA. Not bad, but he did lose his one start in the World Series.
Last season, Cliff Lee was the ace of the staff; things are different for the Rangers this time. C.J. Wilson is the guy. Game 1 is so important in setting the tone for the entire series, especially in a short five-game division series.
It's an ace's job to win Game 1 and give his team the advantage. Wilson failed to do that today, and now the Rangers are in a big hole. His fastball didn't have the life that it usually does and his pitches were very hittable. I understand that bad games happen, but the best pitchers are able to prevent them from happening in October.
Lets be realistic. Even with this outing, C.J. Wilson will be one of the most sought after free-agent pitchers. He'll cash in this offseason—probably to the tune of $90 million. But I'm sure he's hoping to get a chance to redeem himself this postseason.