Chicago Cubs: Travis Wood was an excellent reliever in 2016
Travis Wood proved to be valuable in a variety of situations for the 2016 Chicago Cubs. Despite being an All-Star starting pitcher in 2013, Wood accepted a new role and flourished this season.
RP, Chicago Cubs
In 2013, Travis Wood was one of the Chicago Cubs’ few bright spots. That season, the Cubs finished last place in the NL Central with a record of 66-96. All in all, unlucky number 13 was in full effect for the team that season.
While the Cubs collectively had a rough season, pitcher Travis Wood had a career year. Wood finished with a record of 9-12 and a 3.11 ERA in 32 starts. Opponents hit just .222 against him in 200 IP, the first season Wood pitched 200+ innings in his career.
Wood was named to the NL All-Star team that season, a deserving selection considering the year that the left-hander had. Flash forward to 2015 though, and Wood’s career was on a whole new trajectory.
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Despite being the Cubs’ longest-tenured player, Wood was not automatically handed a spot in the team’s starting rotation. After giving up 5+ runs in his first three starts of May 2015, the Cubs sent him to the bullpen.
Wood’s ERA in May 2015 was an astronomical 8.82; after moving to the bullpen, though, his ERA in June (3.38), July (2.87) and September (0.64) showed drastic signs of improvement.
Come 2016, the Cubs ensured that their starting rotation had plenty of depth, anticipating a deep postseason run. As a result, Wood was the odd man out and returned to his role in the bullpen once again.
Serving as the team’s primary lefty out of the bullpen for majority of the season, Wood made 77 appearances. Opponents hit just .199 against him, all while having an ERA 3.18 or below every month besides July and August. In fact, Wood’s ERA in June (15 appearances) was 1.38 and in September it was 0.00 (10 appearances).
Travis Wood could have fussed about being cast out of the starting rotation. Instead, he blocked out any possible negative thoughts and flourished for the Cubs. Whether manager Joe Maddon needed him for a couple outs or a couple of innings, Wood stepped up and delivered.
Although he is currently a free agent, a reunion for Wood and the Cubs is more than possible. A recent report surfaced about the Cubs’ desire to use six starting pitchers for part of the 2017 season.
As things currently stand, the Cubs’ rotation will consist of Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Jake Arrieta, John Lackey and Mike Montgomery. Although the Cubs could sign or trade for a different starting pitcher, Wood is someone they’re familiar with.
By re-signing Wood, the Cubs could use him in the bullpen for a chunk of the season. Come midseason and the dog days of summer, though, the Cubs could use him as a starting pitcher before the postseason.
Regardless of returning or not, Wood was consistent and reliable for the Cubs for majority of 2016. If he does come back, the team will be gaining a familiar face that could be part of a title-repeating season.
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