Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press
If spring training goes as planned for Alex Wood, he’ll be in the starting rotation at the beginning of the regular season.
He had his major league debut at the end of May in 2013 and held a 3.13 ERA in 31 games. At 22 years old, he is still a young player who has more experience to gain before becoming one of the standout pitchers on the team.
Wood is a left-handed pitcher who doesn’t appear to be intimidated when he steps on the mound. He has shown he is able to produce strong innings both as a starter and a reliever.
Unless he entirely falls apart in spring training, he should be expected to be part of the starting five for the season. His numbers for 2014 might not be as low at first now that batters are more familiar with his style as a starter, but once he gets his bearings, I expect a strong, solid season out of this young pitcher.
He’s been a member of the bullpen and starting rotation. So, if he happens to have a rough spring or start to the regular season, he might end up as a relief pitcher once again. Regardless of where he ends up, he’ll be gaining more experience this season in order to hopefully be a dependable starter in the future.
According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, he’s been working hard this offseason, along with a few teammates, including Freddie Freeman, Dan Uggla and Kris Medlen, with a highly regarded trainer in Duluth. Wood told O’Brien, “I worked as hard as I could, to come in with a chip on my shoulder and try to win a job. I’m excited to get started.”
Pitching is a crucial, yet somewhat questionable, part of this 2014 Braves team. They need a strong rotation to propel themselves deep into the playoffs (or to even just get to the playoffs in general). If Brandon Beachy has a successful season after his Tommy John surgery and if Kris Medlen, Mike Minor and Julio Teheran all have consistent seasons, then it could be a shining spot for the Braves.
Wood just needs to keep performing the way he has shown he is capable of, and the starting position should be his for the taking.