The Los Angeles Dodgers began the season with a surplus of starting pitchers, which squeezed Alex Wood out of the rotation and into the bullpen. Wood figured to be the first candidate in line for a spot start if and when an injury arose.
His opportunity was created by Rich Hill’s early trouble this season with the chronic blister on the middle finger of his left hand. Wood was briefly in and out bullpen as Hill returned from the disabled list, only to land back on the DL a second time.
While others in the rotation not named Clayton Kershaw have encountered their various troubles and struggles with consistency, Wood has dominated. He was sharp again Friday night against the reigning World Series champion Chicago Cubs.
“I felt like my stuff was pretty good,” said Wood after throwing five shutout innings. “Those two walks, I would’ve liked to have back. That double play in the fourth inning was definitely big, on a full count, could’ve gone either way and changed the game. I felt good.”
Wood held the Cubs to just two hits. He issued one walk and collected eight strikeouts. The left-hander extended his MLB-best scoreless streak to 25.1 innings. If not for finishing one inning shy, Wood would lead all qualified National League pitchers with a 1.69 ERA.
“He’s as confident as any player I’ve ever been around,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “He prepares, works hard and he’s very confident. And in Spring Training, he told me he’s as healthy as he’s been in recent memory. Right now you can look at him as a 1A.”
As it became apparent Wood was set to remain in the rotation, he pointed to the consistency as key to his success. The 26-year-old reiterated that sentiment.
“I definitely feel confident right now. My confidence is coming from the consistency of my stuff every five days,” Wood explained. “I just want to keep doing what I’m doing and give us a chance to win.”
On the season he’s 6-0, having earned a win in each of his past five starts. Wood has an impressive 60 strikeouts to 15 walks over 48 innings pitched, and owns a career-best 29.9 percent strikeout rate.