C.J. Wilson thrives in first start since 2005

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Despite a 3.75 ERA, 51 saves, and 231 strikeouts in 233 innings as a reliever over the past four seasons C.J. Wilson campaigned for a spot in the Rangers’ rotation this spring, won the third-starter gig, and tossed seven shutout innings Thursday in his first start since way back in August of 2005.
Wilson was very impressive against the Blue Jays with nine strikeouts versus just five hits and two walks, but Frank Francisco blew his win by serving up a homer to the red hot Vernon Wells in the ninth inning.
I picked Texas to win the AL West despite not feeling particularly confident about their rotation, but Wilson going from good setup man to solid middle-of-the-rotation starter would go a long way toward changing that. Assuming Francisco gets back on track and Neftali Feliz dominates in Wilson’s old setup role, of course.

Chris Sale will start on Opening Day for Red Sox

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No surprise here: Chris Sale will start on Opening Day for the Red Sox, Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe reports. The Red Sox open the season on March 29 in Tampa Bay against the Rays. Sale will oppose Chris Archer.

Sale, 28, is the fifth different Opening Day starter the Red Sox have had in as many years, preceded by Rick Porcello, David Price, Clay Buchholz, and Jon Lester. Sale started on Opening Day for the White Sox in 2013, ’14, and ’16.

Sale finished second in AL Cy Young Award balloting last year and finished ninth for AL MVP. He went 17-8 with a 2.90 ERA and a 308/43 K/BB ratio in 214 1/3 innings. Sale and Clayton Kershaw (2015) are the only pitchers to strike out 300 or more batters in a season dating back to 2003.