MILWAUKEE – It’s all about perspective when it comes to Travis Wood. With an ERA that rose to 5.15 after Friday night’s shellacking by the Milwaukee Brewers, it would be easy to say the Chicago Cubs left-hander is having a bad season. But what happens when most of the damage has been done in a couple of games?
“I’ve had two really, really rough starts,” Wood said after the 11-5 loss. “The White Sox and this one. It kind of messes with you a little bit, but you know it’s only two starts. It’s a long season. It’s upward from here.”
Wood gave up seven runs and 10 hits in 2.2 innings Friday, as the Brewers hammered ball after ball off him to right field. Their game plan coincided with where Wood wanted to throw to the all right-handed starting lineup: down and away. In hindsight, he probably should have come inside more.
“Last game, I did go down and away a lot,” Wood said of his May 18 win over Milwaukee. “[I] had success against them. Looking back on it, that’s what I would have done.”
The problem is that this isn’t a young pitcher trying to figure out how to navigate a big league lineup. Wood made a living last season working both sides of the plate, but he hasn’t always done that this year. He referenced the four-inning, eight-hit, eight-run loss against the Sox on May 7, but he also gave up 11 hits in 5.2 innings against the New York Yankees last month. In between, he’s had some good performances, but can the Cubs deal with that kind of inconsistency if they decide to sign him to a long-term deal?
“Normally, when he’s really good, he uses both sides of the plate,” manager Rick Renteria said.
So why isn’t Wood doing that? Last season produced a career-low 7.3 hits per nine innings pitched. After Friday night, he's at 9.5 this season.
“They hit everything I threw up there,” Wood said.
The former All-Star doesn’t have overpowering stuff in the first place, so if he's just a thrower and doesn’t pitch, he’s going to have the problems we’ve seen this year. The last thing the Cubs need is one of their few solid core pitchers to go backward. So while Wood is not in full backpedal mode just yet, there has to be concern when a team treats him like he's throwing batting practice.
“That was a rough one,” Wood said. “They had a game plan, and they stuck to it, and they got me.”