The Los Angeles Dodgers have both juggled a surplus of starting pitchers and been forced to rely on their depth because of injuries in each of the past two seasons, and Alex Wood has been directly involved and impacted.
Wood began the 2017 season in the bullpen but was quickly needed in the rotation. He took advantage of spot starts to establish himself as a full-time starter and eventual All-Star.
Wood was in the rotation at the outset of this season but after recent struggles has now been placed back in the bullpen. Wood showed signs of rust in what was his first regular season relief outing since April 2017, yielding two baserunners and two runs in 0.2 innings of work.
Beyond changing roles at times over the past two seasons, this year saw Wood make a change to pitching exclusively out of the stretch.
After Monday’s relief appearance, the southpaw admitted that it has been more difficult making adjustments than initially anticipated, per Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:
“I feel I have pretty good knowledge of mechanics,” he said. “Part of the reason I went to the stretch this year was because I felt I would be able to make adjustments easier over the course of the year. I’ve found from trial and error that hasn’t totally been the case. It hasn’t been as easy to make adjustments as I thought.”
While Wood has exclusively pitched out of the stretch all season long, it’s understandable that he was less than effective than usual on Monday given the long layoff in between relief appearances.
He last took on the role in Game 7 of the 2017 World Series, when he compiled two scoreless innings against the Houston Astros.
Wood’s preference remains to start, but he was nevertheless accepting of his demotion to the bullpen. His willingness to make the transition stems from the Dodgers’ need for bullpen stability in addition to their push for another postseason run.
In 28 overall games this season (27 starts), Wood has posted a 3.75 ERA, 3.58 FIP and 1.22 WHIP with 131 strikeouts against 40 walks over 148.2 innings pitched.