Angels lefty Wilson focused on changeup consistency

Angels lefty Wilson focused on changeup consistency

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- C.J. Wilson's changeup usage jumped from 5.9 percent in 2013 to a career-high 12.5 percent in 2014, and that was no fluke. The 34-year-old left-hander focused on it while throwing more bullpen sessions than usual over the offseason, and hopes to rely on it heavily once again in 2015.

It has as much to do with effectiveness as it does maintenance.

"If you throw 20 percent changeups, what happens to your elbow? Nothing," Wilson said. "I can go out there and try to throw all sliders, but what's that going to do to my elbow? I don't know; I don't want to find out. But it's probably not good. Guys that are serial cutter-ists as starters and throw a ton of sliders, and throw the ball as hard as they can, they have shorter life spans."

Opposing hitters batted .279 against Wilson's changeup last year, which isn't all that good from a pitcher's perspective.

"Some games it's really bad and it gets hit," Wilson said, "and some games it's really good and it gets outs."

Wilson is working to get the changeup more consistent, because there's so much appeal to it. It's thrown with the same arm motion as a fastball, so there isn't much injury risk. It's Wilson's straightest pitch, which he believes makes it more likely to be called a strike and gives it the greatest chance for early contact. And when right, it can be an effective pitch against opposing right-handed hitters.

Wilson said the changeup was "great" against the Giants on Sunday, when the Angels' No. 2 starter gave up two runs on three hits and four walks in 4 1/3 innings.

"It bailed me out of a couple jams, got me a couple swing-throughs," said Wilson, who also struck out two in a 64-pitch outing. "It's a big pitch."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.