When it comes to penciling in names for the 2015 Cubs lineup, it is best to have an eraser available. Many positions and rotation spots are on the table.
When it comes to the pitching staff, it is becoming even more difficult to envision how the Cubs will stack up come next April.
Travis Wood was once a name I could safely jot down into the Cubs rotation. However, some of the 2013 all-star’s recent struggles have left me looking for that eraser at times.
Wood was one of the first acquisitions made by this front office. He has been considered a good get and a solid long-term piece moving forward up until now. A lefty as athletic as Wood is still potentially very valuable to this organization going forward.
Yet, the Cubs will be looking to add impact pitching this off-season, possibly by via free agency and the trade market.
If the Cubs were to add, let’s say, two more quality arms to the stable, things could get crowded for Wood quickly. Besides the Edwin Jackson dilemma, the Cubs will probably have newcomers like Kyle Hendricks, Jacob Turner, and Felix Doubront in the mix looking for a spot.
How can Wood get back to being considered a rotation mainstay? The pitcher, his skipper, and catcher are all looking for answers.
“Obviously something is different, whether it’s the hitter’s approach off me or not being able to execute pitches like I did last year,” Wood told Toni Ginetti.
Wood, is still arbitration eligible after making $3.9 million this year.
“We just have to get Woody back to Woody,” Rick Renteria said. “Whatever that is, we’ll try to figure it out.”
“This year, he’s been a little wild, but anyone can go through a tough year”, says Welington Castillo.
Command seems to be the biggest culprit. He just isn’t commanding the cutter the way he did last year. Wood has already walked 71 batters as compared to 66 all last season.
Meanwhile, Wood tries to work away against righties, but is getting far too much of the plate. He simply can’t do that considering how hittable he is. Specifically, it looks like his four-seam fastball stays middle-middle far too often.
Could some of it just be bad luck?
Wood’s xFIP for this season is nearly identical to last year’s. He just went from being really, really lucky in 2013 (.248 BABIP, stranded 77% of base runners, 7 HRs per 100 flyballs) to being really unlucky in 2014 (.319 BABIP, stranding 67% of runners, 9 HRs per 100 flyballs). In fact, his xFIP has been within hundredths of 4.60 for four years.
Wood’s outing Sunday was the worst we have seen of him. He lasted only 1 2/3 innings and the Piates touched him for three quick home runs.
“If I missed a pitch, they hit it out of the park,’’ Wood said. “If I executed one, they hit it through a hole. It just wasn’t my day.’’
It may not be his year either. I am a big fan of Travis Wood; the Cubs need lefties in the rotation and he has the moxie that winning teams all seem to possess.
I don’t want to knock Wood and I hope this year has simply been a case of prolonged bad luck for the lefty (knock wood). If so, perhaps he can return to last season’s form next season. It’d be nice to toss out the eraser and mark him into the Cubs future in ink.