With many calling for the trade or even release of C.J. Wilson, he had something to prove immediately. Matt Shoemaker has his share of critics who don’t believe in the “unheralded beard’s” ability to repeat his stellar rookie season.
Wilson came out of the gate and bought himself some more time in the rotation with an eight inning shutout in which he only threw 96 pitches and kept the Mariner’s bats to two hits.. This gave him a very good game score of 79. That’s 29 points higher than his average game score from last season and is the second best game by a pitcher this young year. Critics may not be on the mind of C.J. but getting off to a good start definitely was. Hopefully last nights game will give him the confidence he lacked last year and keep him aggressive pitching in the zone.
He changed things up a bit from his norm by going with far more four-seam fastballs than usual – 45.8% vs. 32.3% according to PITCHf/x via Fangraphs. Part of the reason may be that he felt good as evidenced by his slightly above average fastball velocity. Brooks Baseball and PITCHf/x showed his changeup to be his most effective pitch with a 30% whiff rate. His velocity with all of his pitches were close to his averages from last season but he finished off batters much better by allowing only one walk.
Another player that many Angels fans are lukewarm on is David Freese. Like Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols he got off to a terrible start in his Angels career, but found a way to turn it around later in the season to produce a respectable campaign. So, getting off to a good start might be as important to him as it was for Wilson. It was all Wilson and Freese in last nights win as he provided the only runs of the night by taking a pitch to right center that left the field and scored Pujols. Putting him in the cleanup spot proved to be a smart move.
To top off the solid night, Huston Street came on and got his first save of the season with an easy 1-2-3 inning. On a side not he is still hopeful of signing an extension with the Halos.
Our beloved Matt Shoemaker will make his debut in the number three slot tonight as he faces off against the tough Hisashi Iwakuma. Shoe will be looking to follow up his unexpectedly great freshman season with a doubt crushing performance that starts tonight. Iwakuma has been tough on the Angels with a career 2.75 ERA against them.
With a righty opposing today, expect the lineup to look the same as on opening day with Matt Joyce getting the start in left field and C.J. Cron at DH. With the Mariners being the likely contender to the Angels AL West crown, this game is much bigger than the calendar would make it appear.