The Chicago Cubs added lefty reliever Justin Wilson at the deadline to fortify an already impressive bullpen. We’re going to get to know him a tad better.
At last year’s MLB trade deadline, the Chicago Cubs stuck a deal with an American League team to bring in a power arm for the backend of their bullpen. That arm – Aroldis Chapman – helped them win the World Series.
The Cubs were back at it again at this week, adding another power arm from an American League. They’re hoping for the same result – another World Series title.
Chicago acquired lefty reliever Justin Wilson from the Tigers along with backstop Alex Avila on Monday. These two players join an already strong Cubs squad poised to make some serious noise in the playoffs. The team is 14-3 since the All-Star Break and their newest players will only make them more dangerous.
The trade follows Theo Epstein’s trend of acquiring controllable players. Since Wilson’s contract with the Cubs lasts throughout the 2018 campaign, let’s get to know him a bit better.
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Wilson is a 29-year-old native of Orange Country born to Jim and Johna Wilson. He was drafted in the 37th round of the 2005 MLB Amateur Draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers.Instead, he opted to enroll at Fresno State University instead of taking a premature path to the majors. With Fresno State, Wilson started 19 games, went 8-5 with an ERA of 3.19 and stuck out 105 batters in 101 2/3 innings of work. Wilson was rewarded as the pitcher of the All-Tournament Team and helped the Bulldogs win their first-ever NCAA Baseball Championship.
During the 2008 MLB Draft, the Pittsburgh Pirates drafted Wilson in the fifth round and 144th overall and he excelled in the minor leagues, tossing two no-hitters. He was promoted to the big leagues on August 20, 2012 and struck out the side in his first major league inning.
A daytime warrior in-the-making?
Another key factor to Wilson joining the Cubs is that he’s no stranger to the N.L. Central. He appeared in 136 games for the Pirates from 2012-2014, going 9-5 with a 2.99 ERA.
Wilson appeared in nine games at Wrigley Field in his career. In seven innings at Wrigley, he walked two, struck out seven and sports a 3.86 ERA. What’s more important is that he has enjoyed afternoon games with day-game career numbers as follows: 11-5 in 140 games, 130.2 innings pitched, 155 strikeouts, a .259 BAA and a 2.76 ERA.
Wilson swaps his Tigers jersey for Cubbie Blue in the midst of a breakout season. As of Tuesday morning, he owns a sparkling 2.68 ERA in 40 1/3 innings of work. He struck out 55 batters and has eight holds. He surrendered only 16 walks, boasts a 0.942 WHIP and opposing batters are hitting a measly .157 against him. Wilson also locked down 13 saves in 15 opportunities as the Tigers closer.
The Cubs’ new reliever owns a vast repertoire of pitches. His four-seam fastball tops out at 97 MPH, his 92 MPH cutter is more effective against righties and his 86 MPH slider is devastating to lefties. He also features three pitches he rarely throws: a 12-6 curveball, a sinker and a change-up. Needless to say, he’s got extra tools in the shed should Chris Bosio opt to expand his inventory.
A missing piece?
Justin Wilson is a perfect juxtaposition to the oft-used Carl Edwards, a flamethrower from the right side. The southpaw represents the type of arm that can be used in crucial situations against the meat of the opposing order.
Wilson will be often used as a set-up man, but his team controllability means he’s an option for next year’s closer role should Wade Davis choose to sign elsewhere. The lefty is an extremely valuable pickup and will help lighten the southpaw role as he joins fellow lefties Brian Duensing and Mike Montgomery in the Cubs bullpen.