Alex Wood entered the 2018 season riding a breakout 2017 campaign into the No. 2 spot in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ rotation. However, the lefty has struggled mightily this year.
Wood’s ERA currently sits at 4.43 with a 3.31 FIP over 13 starts in 2018. He remains the one starting pitcher who was part of the Dodgers’ Opening Day rotation that is not currently on the disabled list. Yet, Wood is dealing with some minor injuries of his own, including a hamstring issue.
He has insisted, however, that his struggles are purely mechanical, and he is healthy enough to pitch. Meanwhile, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has pointed to the rotation’s injury issues as a reason why Wood has not been sent to the bullpen.
Wood had another rough start last Saturday, giving up four runs (two earned) on nine hits over just 4.2 innings against the Atlanta Braves. Roberts, however, remains confident that the left-hander would return to form.
He also said that Wood would is expected to make his next turn in the rotation, via Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times:
“He’s a competitor,” Roberts said. “He can say he’s 100% physically, and that’s what we expect him to say, but he’s still working through some things. He is going to continue to get better.… Is he 100%? No, but how many guys are? He’ll make his next start and he’ll be ready to go.”
While Wood is remaining in the rotation, it can be presumed the Dodgers would have skipped him or perhaps placed the 27-year-old on the DL at some juncture this season. It’s plausible that scenario is around the corner.
Kenta Maeda and Rich Hill both threw bullpens recently, and Clayton Kershaw is expected to throw one in the near future. Maeda is expected to return for a start in Wednesday’s game against the Texas Rangers.
Still, the Dodgers’ rotation remains extremely shorthanded, even with Ross Stripling’s emergence as an effective starter. Until their other pitchers start getting healthy, the Dodgers may not have a better alternative than Wood, even if he continues to struggle.