When Brian Wilson was signed, I didn’t like it much. His velocity was reported to be anywhere from 87-90 mph, he only had a month to make an impact coming off Tommy John surgery, and he was a veteran, so the team would inevitably give him preference for the playoff roster over a potentially more deserving candidate.
Now? Now there’s a case to be made that he’s the second-best reliever in the pen. After somewhat of a feeling out/adjustment period, Wilson checks in with a 0.73 ERA and 1.83 FIP after yesterday’s scoreless inning in his return to AT&T Park. With the recent struggles of Paco Rodriguez and Ronald Belisario, possibly due to fatigue, he could now have even more impact as a fresh arm.
I said back then that he needed to reinvent himself or get his velocity back if he was going to be effective again, and Wilson has actually done both. In his prime with the the Giants, he sat 95-97 mph with his fastball and primarily pitched off that. And while he’s only averaging 92.9 mph with the Dodgers, his velocity has been trending in the right direction.
After a bit of a downturn due to him not using the fastball much at all, he’s back into the 93-95 mph range, which puts him almost back to where he was in his prime.
About that velocity downturn though, it’s not exactly a bad thing, as he’s sort of become an oddball version of Kenley Jansen, throwing his 87-89 mph cutter a whopping 77.0% of the time. Perhaps most importantly, though, he’s back to locating it for strikes.
This only adds to the effectiveness of his fastball, and probably helps compensate for the one or two ticks he’s lost due to TJS and age.
Going forward, Wilson probably won’t be this good because nobody really is, and he figures to settle around the 2.4-2.7 ERA range as far as true talent level is concerned. That’s hardly a mark against him, though, as his addition gives the team six reliable relievers that they can depend on. And amazingly, for all the questions marks that surrounded him in April, and as late as August, there’s a solid chance he’ll be the setup man going into the postseason.