C.J. Wilson’s transition to the starting rotation has gone better than anyone could have imagined.  Who could have expected the following line through five starts:

2 Wins
32.2 Innings
1.65 ERA
1.19 WHIP
25 Strikeouts (6.9 K/9)
13 Walks (3.6 B/99)
.279 BABIP

We’ll notice right away that the BABIP is not an unrealistic number.  It is above average so a falloff is possible, but it’s not a guarantee either.  That’s something that you have to like seeing.

The control is better than he had while coming out of the bullpen, but again, is nothing unreasonable.  He entered the season with a career BB/9 of 4.1.  Once again, is there a chance he regresses?  Yes, but I wouldn’t call it a guarantee.  Keep in mind, thanks to not allowing it to all “hang loose” for an inning as a reliever, he’s had to dial it back a notch (his fastball went from 93.3 mph to 91.2 mph).  It’s very possible that, throwing the ball a little bit slower, allows him better control.

The downside to that, of course, is that it has led to less strikeouts, aside from last seasons gaudy numbers (10.3 K/9).  The prior three years he had posted marks of 8.7, 8.3 and 8.0.  While he opened the year with nine Ks over seven innings, he hasn’t struck out more than five in a start since.  While he’ll have a big strikeout game now or then, they shouldn’t be seen as the norm.

He’s done a fantastic job of generating groundballs, currently at a 58.5 percent, again, something that I can’t say without a shadow of a doubt won’t be repeated.  His career mark is 53.5 percent.  That’s something that you love to see.

There are a few “flags” that need to be mentioned, however.

First of all, he has yet to allow a home run.  He’s had problems with the long ball in the past (16.3 percent HR/FB in 2008, 19.4 percent in 2006).  He plays in a ballpark where balls tend to fly out of.  Sooner or later something is going to give.

The other number is the strand rate, currently at 81.4 percent.  That lucky streak is going to run out, sooner or later, meaning the ERA is going to rise.

However, those are the only true negatives I see.  Is it possible that he maintains putting up these stellar numbers?  Of course not.  He’s not going to produce an ERA below 2.00 for the season, it’s just not going to happen.  That doesn’t mean that he can’t continue to be usable, however.  He has a solid offense behind him, which should help lead to wins, and the rest of his production does not seem unrealistic.

He’s not an ace.  He’s not even a surefire starter from week-to-week.  However, with the success he’s shown he certainly could be seen as a viable option in all formats, especially when he has a more favorable match-up.

Is he a pitcher you are trusting at this point?  Why or why not?

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