Cardinals vs. Rangers: C.J. Wilson Has World Series on His Shoulders in Game 5

Owen MacleodContributor IIOctober 24, 2011

Wilson has a 7.17 ERA in 4 postseason starts in 2011.
Wilson has a 7.17 ERA in 4 postseason starts in 2011.Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

C.J. Wilson is going to be a highly sought free agent at the end of this season. October was to be a platform for his audition for the Yankees and Sox, but it hasn't turned out that way.

In four October starts this year, Wilson has an 0-3 record and a 7.17 ERA while giving up 25 hits in 21.1 innings pitched. Wilson was the ace of the Rangers' staff during the regular season. He posted a 16-7 record in 34 starts, finishing the year with a 2.94 ERA. He logged 223.1 innings for Texas and made his first All-Star Game in 2011, all while hearing the whispers of his free agency and his new contract.

The Rangers will not win this series without pitching. The difference between Games 3 and 4 was astronomical. The Cardinals clobbered Matt Harrison an the Rangers' bullpen for 16 runs, with Albert Pujols going 5-for-6 with three home runs in Game 3.

Derek Holland, who also won 16 games for Texas in the regular season, had the mound for the Rangers in Game 4. Holland threw 8.1 inning of two-hit shut-out baseball against a Cardinal team that, less than 24 hours before, had lit up the Texas sky with bomb after bomb. The Rangers need that kind of performance out of their starters. 

The starting rotation has let Texas down so far in this postseason. Their bullpen had saved them from elimination in the AL Division and Championship Series, but they have diminished in the Fall Classic.

C.J. Wilson gets the ball for Texas in Game 5 and will oppose Game 1 winner Chris Carpenter. In a rematch of Game 1, Carpenter will look to send the Cardinals back to St. Louis with a one-game lead and a chance to clinch the World Series at home. Carpenter has pitched well in the 2011 playoffs, which is more than can be said for Wilson.

Wilson  needs to locate his pitches and command the strike zone the way Derek Holland did in Game 4. Holland worked inside to hitters early and established his zone without being wild. Wilson needs to keep hitters uneasy and off-balance in the box in Game 5, and he needs to keep the ball down.

It's no secret that Rangers Ballpark in Arlington is a hitter's park. The jet stream, the warm Texas air—it all adds up to a World Series full of offensive production. The Rangers will score enough runs to keep C.J. Wilson in the game, but if they want to win, they will need Wilson to out-duel Carpenter.