Alex Wood’s time may be now
When you play the what if game for 2016, Alex Wood plays a prominent part in my mind. If not for the injury would Wood have kept pitching at a high level as he had from April 29th – May 30th before going down with the elbow debridement? Could a healthy Wood have helped the Dodgers monitor the Urias innings so that they wouldn’t have had to shut him down in Sept and have him ready to take on a full role in October?
These mind games are rabbit holes, you can say the same thing in different ways for multiple Dodgers. How about 2017, what can Wood do for you?
Eric Stephen did his player profile on Wood today and within the comments a commentator named Puddle created a fan post about Wood. If you haven’t read it, I suggest you do, as it brings some nice insight into why Wood was successful during that stretch before hurting his elbow.
From what I can tell, Wood stopped throwing the curveball out of the zone and started trusting it, dropping it in for strikes by having the pitch start higher and finish closer to the center of the plate. Meanwhile, he started using his changeup as his chase pitch.
I don’t usually like looking at data by using selective end points, but for this discussion it makes sense because there is a clear change in the way he pitched on a specific date. From the time Wood made that change in the way he pitches until he got injured, he posted the 3rd best xFIP in the league.
A healthy and productive Alex Wood would be a boon to the Dodgers, whether he ends up being a mainstay in the rotation or the bullpen. Either way, I’m excited to see how Wood uses his curve in 2017, and if someone like Rich Hill can have a positive impact on him. Rich Hill has shown the world that you can be an elite pitcher using the curveball as your leading pitch.
I’m hoping for a 2016 Danny Duffy type of season from him.