When the Los Angeles Dodgers acquired left-hander Alex Wood the day before the trade deadline last season, they hoped they’d get someone closer to his 2014 level of performance and production. Instead, Wood struggled quite a bit and never seemed to get all that comfortable with things.
Now, as Spring Training starts to get underway and he reveals some of what happened last season, he hopes that working on his delivery will yield results that leave him with a rotation spot for him to call home for the foreseeable future. That is, if it all goes according to his plan.
Wood used the fall to heal the bone bruise that dogged him after he joined the Dodgers last summer. He used the winter to repair the delivery that malfunctioned along the way. He plans to use this spring to cement himself as a member of the starting staff.
One of the big takeaways here is that Wood was definitely dealing with a bone bruise, and now it appears that he’s fully healthy and ready to go. He also, as McCullough puts it, “repaired” his delivery. His delivery isn’t aesthetically appealing, and it leaves him prone to eventual Tommy John surgery, but it works for him.
In 2014, Wood managed to pitch 171.2 innings for the Atlanta Braves while finishing that season with a 2.78 ERA and 170 strikeouts compared to just 45 walks. Last season, he seemed to be all over the place, but he still threw 189.2 innings and compiled a 3.84 ERA while striking out 139 batters.
While his strikeout numbers dipped, and his control seemed to worsen just a tad, Wood still showed the potential that teams these days covet. He’s still only a 25-year old left-hander that has had success at the big league level. Those guys don’t just grow on trees anymore.
And the Dodgers hope he puts it together:
“He had some nicks and bruises and some things that he was dealing with last year,” Dodgers General Manager Farhan Zaidi said. “I absolutely don’t think we saw the best he had to offer. We saw it in little glimpses.”
Whether Wood is able to build upon those glimpses and give the team something substantial is on him, but he doesn’t lack the confidence to do so. Wood says he plans “on throwing well” and, by doing so, “not giving them a choice” about whether or not he stays in the rotation.