Wilson to start Game 1 for Rangers in ALDS

Wilson to start Game 1 for Rangers in ALDS

ARLINGTON -- C.J. Wilson will be the Game 1 starter for the Rangers when the playoffs open on Friday. The Rangers don't know who they'll play or where they will play, but manager Ron Washington has decided on Wilson as his Game 1 starter.

Wilson, who was also the Rangers' Opening Day starter, is 16-7 with a 2.97 ERA in 33 starts going into his final outing on Monday against the Angels.

"The playoffs are the playoffs, it doesn't matter where you play or when you play, you still have to pitch well," Wilson said. "We need everybody to play well. We need the whole team to play at a high level."

Washington has not announced the rest of the rotation, but right now the Rangers have Colby Lewis, Derek Holland and Matt Harrison following Wilson.

Wilson made four starts in the playoffs last year and was 1-2 with a 3.70 ERA. He was the Game 2 starter in the ALDS against the Rays and pitched 6 1/3 scoreless innings in a 6-0 victory.

Wilson started Game 1 of the ALCS against the Yankees and took a 5-1 lead into the eighth. But the Yankees scored five runs in that inning against Wilson and the bullpen as they rallied for a 6-5 victory. Wilson allowed six runs in five innings in a 7-2 loss in Game 5.

Wilson pitched well in his only World Series start, allowing two runs in six innings in Game 2 before leaving the game with a blister. The Giants ended up winning, 9-0.

"Last year, we all experienced the circus atmosphere of the playoffs," Wilson said. "There is a lot of flexibility and weird stuff happening. You have to stay in your own little bubble, stay as regular as possible and not make a big deal out of it."

Wilson had a blister pop up on the middle finger of his left hand in his last start against the Athletics on Wednesday. But he was able to throw 25 pitches in a bullpen session on Friday without problem and said the finger is "completely healed."

Wilson starts on Monday against the Angels and then will start Game 1 on three days' rest. The Rangers will cut his outing short on Monday so that he'll be ready for his start on Friday, but Wilson still wants to go out and compete.

"It's not about staying sharp," Wilson said. "You can stay sharp throwing a simulated game or throwing in the bullpen. We still need to win as many games as possible to get the home-field advantage. We know we'll be playing somebody in the playoffs, but we'd like to play at home."

Going into Saturday's games, the Rangers were lined up to play the Yankees in the ALDS. Game 1 would be Friday at Yankee Stadium. Including the postseason, Wilson has made six starts against the Yankees over the past two years and is 0-2 with a 4.98 ERA. He is 0-2 with a 4.74 ERA in three starts at Yankee Stadium.

But as of Saturday, the Rangers still had a chance of playing the Red Sox, Rays or Tigers in the first round.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.