PHOENIX -- When Travis Wood was recently replaced in the Chicago Cubs' starting rotation by Tsuyoshi Wada, outwardly he took the demotion to the bullpen in stride. After allowing 15 runs in 13.1 innings during his last three starts, and enduring the lingering strain of a subpar 2014, Wood faced a crossroads. Failure in this role would mean an uncertain future for the left-hander, who is still attempting to regain the form that earned him an All-Star nod in 2013.
So far, he has risen to the challenge.
Wood earned his first career save on May 16 when he closed out a 4-1 win against Pittsburgh with a 1-2-3 ninth inning.
His second relief appearance came on Friday in a 5-4 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks in 13 innings. While this outing wasn't nearly as smooth, when Wood needed big outs he got them. He pitched his way out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the 12th inning when he struck out both Yasmany Tomas and Jordan Pacheco to end the scoring threat.
Overall, he allowed one hit and two walks -- one intentional -- and struck out two. It wasn't pretty but it was effective.
Chicago has a solid starting rotation, so Wood is unlikely to regain his spot. However, if he can establish himself in the bullpen, then his future would likely become less uncertain. A lesser role on the Cubs is better than none at all.