About a week ago, Mike Bacsik issued the following tweet:
My point on CJ is he is only a #1 starter in Texas. Any other team considered a playoff team he's a 2 or 3. In Philly he's in the pen.
My initial reaction to this was, of course, "No ... this doesn't sound right. And that bit about C.J. only being a reliever at best in Philadelphia absolutely CANNOT be right."
Well, today, Joel Sherman writes at length about the Yankees' rotation situation and their prospects of gunning for Wilson on the open market this winter:
The Yankees are not the only team showing a lack of fervor for C.J. Wilson, though he has gone 31-15 with a 3.14 ERA the last two years and is left-handed. In supply and demand, this should make Wilson the top free-agent starter on the market — and once the bidding begins, all the talk of caution usually vanishes.
But I have yet to find a baseball executive or scout who views Wilson as an ace and very few who even think he is a definitive No. 2. Heck, one member of the Yankees decision-making apparatus told me he thinks Wilson is a No. 4 on a championship-caliber team.
Wilson will start Game 1 of the World Series for Texas tomorrow and has pitched in Game 1 of every round of these playoffs. But there are concerns about his career postseason performance (1-4, 5.40 ERA, 10 homers in 40 innings) and his command of the strike zone.
Also, I thought Wilson would get more points for a likelihood of future durability based on that he was mainly a reliever his first five seasons and never exceeded 74 innings. However, most executives spoken to said there is plenty of stress being a high-leverage reliever several times a week. Also, a few evaluators voiced concerns about Wilson’s mechanics, noting he has a bit of the Inverted W in his delivery — both elbows pointing upward and above the shoulder before the release — though not as dramatic as those of, say, Stephen Strasburg or the young Mark Prior.
It led one NL talent evaluator to tell me this: “Is he a good bet to start without breaking down over the next five years and 1,000 innings? Well, no one really is. But I would say his chances are slimmer than others.”
I think that what you're going to find is C.J. ranking as a borderline No. 1 pitcher by the metrics (a No. 1.5 pitcher, perhaps), and as more of a No. 2 starter by scouts (with some apparently leaning closer to No. 3 territory), so I'm not surprised that he's not being viewed as a legitimate ace by baseball types. The notion that C.J. slots as a No. 4 starter on a championship-caliber team, however, is ludicrious, and smacks of some type of ulterior motive on the part of said (conveniently anonymous) Yankees executive.
As far as the talk about his durability ... well, I agree to the extent that I think those higher-leverage relief innings are more stressful, but I would still be inclined to think that there's a pretty substantial difference in the wear and tear created by 55-60 higher-leverage innings and the wear and tear created by 200-plus innings -- or more than 300 percent more pitches in an given season.
I may talk about this more tomorrow, if I feel so inclined.