Just as often as I admit I was right about a prediction or something I wrote about, I admit when I was wrong about something. And I have to admit, I was dead wrong about C.J. Wilson last season.

I didn’t see Wilson making a successful transition from reliever to starter, but man, was he good in 2010. Wilson had a 3.35 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and averaged 7.5 Ks/nine in 204 IP. Until Cliff Lee arrived, you can say Wilson was the ace of the Texas Rangers’ staff.

What was perhaps most impressive about Wilson’s transition from reliever to starter in 2010 was his consistency. Despite throwing 130 more innings than he had ever done before, his second half ERA was almost identical to his first half ERA—3.36 to 3.35.

Another reliever who is will try to do his best in 2011 to pull a Wilson is Detroit Tigers’ LHP Phil Coke. After appearing in 73 games last season as a reliever, Coke will be given a shot to start for the Tigers. Coke did start one game for the Tigers last season, but that was on the last game of the season, and he only went 1.2 innings as Jim Leyland was trying to get as many pitchers into the game as possible.

So the question is for Coke and Tiger fans, can he be as successful as Wilson was transitioning from a reliever to a starter? I believe the answer is yes.

First, if you take the task at hand in its simplest form, Coke might be more prepared than Wilson moving into the role. Before 2010, the last time Wilson started a game was back in 2005. That is an eon between starts.

Coke, on the other hand, was a starter throughout his minor league career with the New York Yankees. As late as 2008, Coke was making starts in Triple-A. He made 20 starts that season.

Those 20 starts just three years ago should give Coke an edge as he prepares to make the transition. The routine shouldn’t be lost on him.

Second, most relievers rely on two pitches to get hitters out. One advantage Wilson had in his transition was that he threw four pitches out of the pen. Out of the bullpen in 2009, Wilson threw a fastball (70 percent of the time), slider (18.5 percent), cutter (5.6 percent) and change (5.3 percent).

Coke has a similar repertoire.

Coke threw three types of pitches in 2010, one more than your average reliever. Coke threw a fastball (60.5 percent of the time), slider (24.5 percent) and a change (14.9.).

I do think if Coke is going to enjoy success in 2011, he is going to have to come up with another quality pitch. His WAR on his fastball in 2010 was 6.6, slider was -0.4I enj and change was 2.1. He is going to need to develop a cutter or really improve on his slider to get hitters out a second or third time throughout a game.

Wilson did a good job of mixing up his pitches. He increased the usage of his cutter to 18.6 percent and change to 16.7 percent, while decreased the usage of his fastball all the way down to 49.2 percent.

If Coke can make the successful transition from reliever to starter, the Tigers could really be in business in 2011. He might just be the “key” to the Tigers’ season.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostomflg

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