Justin Wilson, who is a relief pitcher that played for the Pittsburgh Pirates for the first three seasons of his career, was traded to the Yankees on November 12 for back-up catcher Francisco Cervelli. The 27-year-old has a 2.99 ERA, 1.229 WHIP, 127 strikeouts and 61 walks in his 138.1 innings pitched (136 games).
In 2012, he made his major league debut on August 20 and would make seven more appearances the rest of the season. He only pitched 4.2 innings in those eight games, but Wilson was able to record seven strikeouts and only one run.
This successful stint at the end of the season led to him having a prominent role in the bullpen in 2013. During his age 25 season, he had a 6-1 record, 15 holds, a dominating 2.08 ERA, 1.059 WHIP, 59 strikeouts, a career-low 3.4 walks/9 innings and held lefties to a .501 OPS in 73.2 innings pitched (58 games). His very low WHIP and ERA gave him one of the best seasons in baseball among set-up men.
He was not as successful last season as he finished with a 4.20 ERA after allowing 28 earned runs, but he was able to improve his strikeouts/9 innings from 7.2 to 9.2. He had three wins, three blown saves and 16 holds in 60 innings (70 games). His ERA was higher last season because he allowed 11 more runs in 13.2 fewer innings. Wilson is due for a bounce back season because many players go through a “sophomore slump” after playing well as a rookie.
Last season, Wilson relied on his four-seam fastball (96mph), sinker (96mph), cutter (91mph) and curve (80mph). The rising action on his four-seamer results in many more groundballs compared to other pitchers’ fourseamers. His sinker also results in more groundballs compared to other pitchers’ sinkers.
Wilson is entering his fourth season, and third full season, which means that he still has room for improvement. His main weakness is that he has some control issues, as he has 4.0 walks per nine innings for his career. The strikeout pitcher will give the Yankees a second reliable lefty in the bullpen. Another positive is that he isn’t even arbitration eligible until 2016.
He will combine with Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, David Carpenter, Esmil Rogers and Adam Warren to give the Yankees one of the best bullpens in baseball. Another positive to having Wilson is that he will combine with Betances, Miller and Carpenter to give the bullpen four flame-throwers. He will likely primarily pitch in the seventh inning along with Carpenter.