No doubt Kenny Rogers is the Rangers' best all-time left-handed pitcher. But is C.J. Wilson already No. 2?
He further helped his cause Tuesday night in Tampa, somehow resisting his stupid, "instinctive" urge to bare-hand comebackers long enough to shut out the Rays in a complete-game, 8-0 victory. Combined with Felix Hernandez' snuffing of the Angels, the Rangers' lead in the AL West grows to 3.5 games and their magic numbers plummets to 17.
I was saying a year ago that C.J. deserved to start Game 1 of the playoffs, yes even over Cliff Lee. I won't say he's having the kind of year that Lee is having in Philly -- 200 strikeouts and 6 shutouts, hasn't been done since '82 -- but certainly we now trust Wilson as a bona fide ace that will lead the Rangers into the playoffs and who must be signed in the off-season.
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To me, Wilson has already leap-frogged guys like Jon Matlack and Darren Oliver on Texas' all-time lefty list, behind only Rogers and his franchise second-best 133 wins. He's now 15-6 in 30 starts and 200+ innings with an ERA of 3.13. This, of course, on the heels of 2010 when he went 15-8 with a 3.35. That's 30 wins in two seasons with an ERA of 3.24.
In the AL currently, there aren't a lot of pitchers I'd rather have starting Game 1 of next month's ALDS:
Justin Verlander. CC Sabathia. Jered Weaver. Jon Lester. Felix Hernandez. Josh Beckett. Maybe James Shields? And then C.J. Wilson. He's a Top 15 pitcher in baseball, one of the handful of the best in the AL.
To me that makes him an ace. And a very underappreciated one.