Coming off Tommy John surgery, Brian Wilson’s 2013 season exceeded expectations and it landed him a lucrative contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers in the off-season; one year at $10 million and a player option for 2015 at $8.5 million.
On the surface, Wilson’s second season with the Dodgers hasn’t been nearly as successful as his first. He landed on the disabled list just three games into the year with nerve irritation in his elbow and has since battled a perception something may still be ailing him, which he’s previously denied and expressed satisfaction with his production.
Wilson entered Saturday’s game in the eighth inning and the Dodgers holding a one-run lead. His first pitch was smacked into right field by John Baker, who then moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt.
Chris Coghlan landed a knockout blow as he hit a line drive two-run home run that proved to be the difference in the game. Following the loss, Wilson again refuted the notion he may be bothered by an injury, according to the OC Register’s Bill Plunkett:
I’ll go out and do my job and at the end of the day you can write what you want. But as far as you thinking I’m hurt – no, that wasn’t the case. I just wasn’t able to execute a pitch. That’s about as simple as it is.”
As for his velocity, which was in the mid-80s much of Saturday and has been for the season, Wilson said he threw hardest come playoff time:
When I came back last year, if you guys were looking, I was 89, 91 (mph) and when I decided to bring it up to 95 was the playoffs and not really any time before that. It was 96 at the beginning of (this) year but giving up runs so it’s like a double-edged sword. If I have velocity and I’m giving up runs, then what is it? Either you can’t execute pitches or I throw what I can get people out with then – is there a velocity issue?”
Prior to the two runs he allowed Saturday, Wilson hadn’t allowed a run in 6.1 consecutive innings (nine outings). Last season, the right-hander allowed one run in 13.2 innings pitched during the regular season and was perfect in six postseason innings.
Comparatively, though in more innings pitched (45.2), Wilson has given up 24 runs, with 23 of them earned this season. With just seven games remaining on their schedule, Wilson’s suggestion he’s able to dial up his velocity for the postseason will presumably be put to the test sooner rather than later.