Not a bad throw-in.
Alex Wilson, seemingly a minor piece in the offseason trade that sent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes from the Boston Red Sox to the Detroit Tigers in exchange for pitcher Rick Porcello, is thriving in his first season in the Motor City. The 28-year-old right-hander finally has a consistent major league opportunity and he’s making the most of it, posting a 1.94 ERA over his first 36 appearances with his new club.
“I haven’t changed a thing. I’m throwing the exact same way, the exact same pitches I’ve thrown the last two years,” Wilson told the Providence Journal’s Brian MacPherson this week upon returning to Boston for a three-game series against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. “It’s just finally coming together with an opportunity that I’ve been given full time.”
Wilson, a second-round pick of the Red Sox in 2009, had success with Boston in 2014. He posted a 1.91 ERA and a 0.88 WHIP in 18 relief appearances spanning 28 1/3 innings.
The effort flew under the radar, as the Red Sox stumbled to a last-place finish in the American League East, but it clearly was enough to catch the Tigers’ attention. He’s become a valuable contributor for Detroit since the December trade.
“I think I finally found a good groove last year,” Wilson told MLB.com before Friday’s series opener in Boston. “Finally had some consistency, not the whole up-and-down thing. Once I was able to feel comfortable and stick and stay around, I was kind of able to settle in.”
Wilson dealt with a thumb injury last season, but that now appears to be a thing of the past. The reliable reliever has struck out 30 and walked just eight in 51 innings with the Tigers this season, all while filling a number of roles out of Detroit’s bullpen.
“I know how the game works, and I’ve seen enough friends and teammates get traded,” Wilson told MacPherson of the offseason deal that sent him from Boston to Detroit. “To have your own name called is a little bit different.
“I did the whole up-and-down thing the last two years with the Red Sox, but I came over here and pitched pretty well at the beginning and was given a full-time chance for the first time in my career. I’ve been fortunate to take advantage of it so far.”
The verdict’s still out on the centerpieces of the teams’ December trade. Porcello has had a disappointing first season in Boston after signing a four-year, $82.5 million contract extension on Opening Day. Cespedes has been productive for Detroit, but he’s slated to become a free agent this offseason and there’s no guarantee the Tigers will re-sign the slugger.
Wilson, meanwhile, just keeps doing his thing. Still under the radar. Still effective.
Thumbnail photo via Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY Sports Images
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