Justin Wilson (baseball)

Justin Wilson
Wilson pitching for the Detroit Tigers in 2016
Chicago Cubs – No. 37
Born: (1987-08-18) August 18, 1987
Anaheim, California
Bats: Left Throws: Left
MLB debut
August 20, 2012, for the Pittsburgh Pirates
MLB statistics
(through August 31, 2018)
Win–loss record 26–17
Earned run average 3.26
Strikeouts 400

Justin James Wilson (born August 18, 1987) is an American professional baseball pitcher for the Chicago Cubs of Major League Baseball (MLB). He previously played for the Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Yankees, and Detroit Tigers. Prior to his professional career, Wilson played College Baseball for the Fresno State Bulldogs, where he was a member of the 2008 College World Series champions.

High school and college career

Wilson attended Buchanan High School in Clovis, California.[1] Out of high school, the Los Angeles Dodgers drafted Wilson in the 37th round (1126th overall) of the 2005 Major League Baseball Draft, but he did not sign, opting to enroll at Fresno State University, where he played college baseball for the Fresno State Bulldogs baseball team.[2] In his junior season, Wilson was named to the College World Series All-Tournament Team, as Fresno State won the 2008 College World Series.

Professional career

Pittsburgh Pirates

After his junior season at Fresno State, the Pirates drafted Wilson in the fifth round (144th overall) of the 2008 Major League Baseball Draft,[3] and he signed with the Pirates.

In 2009, he played for the Lynchburg Hillcats. In 2010, he played for the Altoona Curve. In 2011, he played for the Indianapolis Indians. The Pirates added him to their 40-man roster after the 2011 season to protect him from the Rule 5 draft.[4]

On April 29, 2012, pitching for the Indianapolis Indians against the Durham Bulls, Wilson pitched the first 7 1/3 innings of a combined no-hitter, finished off by Jumbo Diaz and Doug Slaten. “It was pretty awesome,” Wilson said after the game. “Great for Jumbo to come in and not give up a hit. And Doug as well. Great defense all around. Outstanding play to end the game, it was an awesome play. And then José Morales behind the plate was just outstanding tonight.” On leaving the game with a no-hitter, Wilson said: “It was tough, but you’ve got to trust your manager.”“He was making the call on what he thought, which was totally okay with me. Totally understandable. I respect him, and understand what he was doing.” With two outs in the ninth inning, Reid Brignac sent a slow rolling check swing to second base, then Anderson Hernández ranged in, bare handed the ball, and made the flip to first base to complete the no-hitter.[5] On August 9, 2012, pitching for the Indianapolis Indians, Wilson pitched his second no-hitter of the 2012 season, an eight inning, complete game no-hitter against the Charlotte Knights (rain ended the game in the eighth inning).[6][7] Wilson was promoted to the Pittsburgh Pirates on August 20, 2012.[8] Wilson made his major league debut the same day, pitching one scoreless inning, with three strikeouts.

Wilson had a 6–1 win-loss record with a 2.08 earned run average (ERA) for the Pirates in 2013. He had a 3–4 record with a 4.20 ERA in 2014.[9]

New York Yankees

On November 12, 2014, the Pirates traded Wilson to the New York Yankees in exchange for Francisco Cervelli.[10] During the 2015 season, Yankees' manager Joe Girardi used Wilson as his setup pitcher for the seventh inning, with Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller pitching the eighth and ninth innings, respectively. Wilson had a 3.10 ERA in 61 innings pitched in 2015.[11]

Detroit Tigers

On December 9, 2015, the Yankees traded Wilson to the Detroit Tigers in exchange for Chad Green and Luis Cessa.[12] On January 13, 2016, the Tigers avoided arbitration with Wilson, agreeing on a one-year, $1.525 million contract.[13] During the 2016 season, Wilson posted a 4–5 record, and a 4.14 ERA with 65 strikeouts in 58 23 innings pitched. His strikeout rate of 10.0 per 9 innings was the highest of his career.

On January 13, 2017, the Tigers avoided arbitration with Wilson, agreeing on a one-year, $2.7 million contract.[14]

Wilson began the 2017 season allowing no hits and no runs in his first 11 appearances (covering 9 23 innings). The streak ended on April 29, when Melky Cabrera of the Chicago White Sox led off the 10th inning with a home run off Wilson.[15] On May 9, 2017, manager Brad Ausmus stated that Wilson would be the team's closer, after incumbent closer Francisco Rodríguez had blown his fourth save of the young season.[16]

Chicago Cubs

On July 31, 2017, Wilson and catcher Alex Avila were traded to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for infielder Jeimer Candelario, shortstop Isaac Paredes, and a player to be named later or cash considerations.[17][18] Wilson struggled with the Cubs, pitching to a 5.09 ERA and 2.09 WHIP in 23 games, while walking 19 batters in 17 23 innings. His full 2017 season totals included a 4–4 record, 13 saves (all with Detroit), 3.41 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, and 80 strikeouts in 58 innings.

On January 12, 2018, Wilson signed a one-year, $4.25 million contract to remain with the Cubs, avoiding arbitration. [19]

Pitching Style

Wilson throws hard four-seam and two-seam fastballs that average 95–96 MPH (topping out at 99 MPH). He also throws a cut fastball in the 90–94 MPH range. His primary offspeed pitch is a curveball that averages 83–87 MPH.[20]


  1. "Buchanan High lefty says he'll join 'Dogs ..." Retrieved September 4, 2013.
  2. "Results good enough for Wilson, 'Dogs ..." Retrieved September 4, 2013.
  3. "Bulldogs double up in baseball's draft". Retrieved September 4, 2013.
  4. Brink, Bill (November 19, 2011). "Six minor leaguers join Pirates 40-man roster". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved February 4, 2012.
  5. Williams, Tim (April 29, 2012). "Justin Wilson Leads Combined No Hitter For Indianapolis". Retrieved November 13, 2014.
  6. Williams, Tim (August 9, 2012). "Justin Wilson Throws Second No Hitter of the 2012 Season". Retrieved November 13, 2014.
  7. Zinni, Nancy (August 10, 2012). "Justin Wilson Throws an Eight Inning No-Hitter". Retrieved November 13, 2014.
  8. Janes, Chelsea (August 20, 2012). "Pirates recall McPherson, Wilson". MLB.com. Retrieved November 13, 2014.
  9. Sherman, Joel (November 13, 2014). "Yankees trade Francisco Cervelli to Pirates for lefty reliever". New York Post.
  10. "Pirates acquire Cervelli from Yankees for Wilson". ESPN.com. Associated Press. November 13, 2014. Retrieved November 13, 2014.
  11. http://www.nj.com/yankees/index.ssf/2015/12/yankees_to_trade_reliever_justin_wilson_2_reports.html
  12. Hoch, Bryan (December 9, 2015). "Yankees land pair of pitching prospects for Wilson". MLB.com. Retrieved December 9, 2015.
  13. Beck, Jason (January 13, 2016). "Tigers avoid arbitration with Wilson". MLB.com. Retrieved January 13, 2016.
  14. Beck, Jason (January 13, 2017). "Tigers maintain streak, agree to deals with six". MLB.com. Retrieved January 13, 2017.
  15. "Cabrera, Abreu, Chisox beat Tigers 6-4 in 10, 6th win in row". CBSsports.com. April 29, 2017. Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  16. "Francisco Rodriguez Replaced as Tigers Closer by Justin Wilson". bleacherreport.com. May 9, 2017. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  17. Fenech, Anthony (July 31, 2017). "Deal done: Tigers trade Justin Wilson, Alex Avila to Cubs for prospects". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved July 31, 2017.
  18. Beck, Jason (July 31, 2017). "Tigers acquire prospect Candelario from Cubs". MLB.com. Retrieved July 31, 2017.
  19. "Kris Bryant sets record for first-year raise". MLB.com. Retrieved 2018-01-17.
  20. "Justin Wilson PitchFX at FanGraphs.com". fangraphs.com. Retrieved June 7, 2014.

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