World Series 2011: Last Chance for C.J. Wilson to Prove His Free-Agent Value?

Manny Randhawa@@MannyBal9Correspondent IIIOctober 24, 2011

ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 19:  C.J. Wilson #36 is taken out of the game by manager Ron Washington of the Texas Rangers in the bottom of the sixth inning during Game One of the MLB World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on October 19, 2011 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

During the regular season, Rangers' left-handed ace C.J. Wilson went 16-7 with a 2.94 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 206 strikeouts; great numbers for a starter in the American League, where offense is of a higher caliber and pitchers don't hit.

But the postseason has been Wilson's foe, not friend, in his career thus far, and it could have a big impact on how much money he is offered in the free agent market this winter.

Wilson is just 1-5 with a 5.32 ERA and 1.45 WHIP in the postseason. Those five losses have come consecutively, to the Yankees, Giants, Rays, Tigers and Cardinals. It does not seem to matter who the opponent is, Wilson just has not lived up to his potential under the bright lights of October baseball.

So when the lefty takes the mound in Game 5 of the World Series Monday night in Arlington, it may not only be his last game as a Texas Ranger. It may also be his last chance to do what Albert Pujols did in Game 3 Saturday night: prove that he is not just worth every penny, but even more.

Wilson's postseason woes raise legitimate question marks about his ability to pitch under the pressures of the playoffs, and teams that would potentially pursue him would be looking to improve their starting rotations to not only get to the postseason, but go deep once there.

The pressure on Wilson does not end with the implications of his impending free agency. The future may be affected by his performance in Game 5, but there is also the present to think about. The Rangers are gridlocked in a 2-2 series tie with the Cardinals in the 107th Fall Classic. If Wilson cannot improve on his poor playoff performances to date, Texas will be pushed to the brink of elimination. The Rangers would head back to St. Louis in Game 6, facing two must-win games to avoid their second consecutive World Series defeat.

No team has made three consecutive World Series appearances in the last decade.

Good luck, C.J., you have a tall order before you tonight.