Bring the Beard back to the Dodgers
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
We enter the month of November where MLB unrestricted free agents can now officially sign with any team. It is also “ No Shave November,” a popular culture movement around the country where people (mainly men) don’t shave their moustaches, beards, etc. in the month of November. One person who probably hasn’t shaved since October of 2010 is Brian Wilson. Wilson spent his first seven years in the MLB with the San Francisco Giants before joining the Dodgers midway through this past season. Although he pitched in only 24 games including the playoffs with the Boys in Blue, Wilson gave the Dodgers a perfect setup man (something the Dodgers have been lacking for a long time) and a character that was well liked around the club. Thus giving the Dodgers a big question this offseason: Do they re-sign him for a higher price or let him go to another team?
After having Tommy John Surgery in 2012, Wilson waited until he was “100 percent healthy” to return to the MLB in July of 2013. The Dodgers signed Wilson on July 31st to a one-year contract worth only one million dollars that also included performance bonuses. The contract was a low risk for the Dodgers who hoped that Wilson would provide a solid setup man in the 8th with Kenley Jansen the teams’ closer. Wilson spent a couple of weeks in the minors before making his Dodger debut on August 22nd against the Miami Marlins. He threw a scoreless 9th inning and struck out two. Wilson exceeded expectations this year by a wide margin as he pitched in 18 games in the regular season and gave up ONE RUN, yes one run. In 13.2 innings that he pitched, his ERA was 0.66 and he struck out 13 batters. Wilson then pitched in six games in the postseason and stuck out eight batters in six scoreless innings. In fact, Wilson has now thrown 17.2 scoreless innings in the postseason without giving up a run.
Before having Tommy John Surgery, Wilson was one of the hardest throwing pitchers in baseball with a fastball around 98 MPH. When he was with the Dodgers, Wilson saw that he can no longer hit 98 on the gun and threw a lot of cut fastballs, sliders, and two-seam fastballs. He still had a lot of movement on his pitches and would throw different pitches to keep the batters on their toes. By keeping the ball low in the zone with his pitches, Wilson got more groundball outs than flyouts and only gave up two doubles in the regular season. Wilson showed the Dodgers in a short amount of time just how good he still is and at 31, still has five to seven more years left in him. The big issue for Wilson is what role does he want?
Wilson gave Clayton Kershaw a run for his money as the team’s hardest worker. Kershaw is known to be the team’s hardest worker who consistently is the first one on the field in the morning workouts or on off days. When Wilson joined the team, he would be on the field early the morning after a game. Wilson has been known to be a jokester who likes to have fun during pregame warm-ups but right when the game starts, he gets into game mood.
Wilson has 171 career saves and would love go back to his closer role with a team but will he be willing to go for a smaller price than he would want? Or will the Dodgers bring him back as their setup man for more money to give the Dodgers a dominant 8th-9th inning punch of him and Jansen? Yes, Wilson only pitched in 24 games this year, but the effect that he had on the team and how well he pitched should convince the Dodgers sign him to a one or two-year contract.