Alex Wood has allowed one earned run in four of his starts, including a four-hit, 11-strikeout performance on Tuesday against the Marlins.
FOXSportsSouth.com checks in with play-by-play announcer Chip Caray to discuss the latest surrounding the Braves.
FOXSPORTSSOUTH.COM: Alex Wood has gotten off to a sensational start, most recently going toe-to-toe with the Marlins’ Jose Fernandez. Wood struggled late last season with a 6.91 ERA after August, raising the question as to whether teams were figuring him out. But with a 1.54 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 35 innings, there’s no sophomore slump here, is there?
CHIP CARAY: We’re seeing a young man that has really committed himself to being a successful major league pitcher.
Remember, before all the injuries took place, I think it was safe to say Alex Wood was a guy that was going to have to go to spring training and win a job. To his credit he took nothing for granted and he came to camp bigger and stronger and came to camp with a single goal in mind, to be one of the five best starters and to make this rotation.
He did all those things I think he had a sensational spring. He put his foot on the accelerator and didn’t let off, and he hasn’t since.
What’s really been fun to watch from Alex Wood is every pitch is building and every game is building toward a better and better result. He’s 2-3, but he could easily be 5-0 this year, but the Braves haven’t scored for him.
Ultimately, that’s what makes him so competitive and so tough, he gives the Braves a chance win every single game. Whether it has anything to do with his quirk delivery or not, nothing he throws is straight and I’m sure it makes it very difficult for hitters to pick up; it’s difficult to adjust to.
But to suggest that success for him is just because of the quirky delivery belittles the intense desire for him to be successful, his hard work and frankly, really good stuff.
FSS.COM: Aaron Harang mentioned after Wednesday’s gem that nobody wants to be the "lame duck" in that rotation. What have you noticed about the competition among the starters during this strong run?
CC: You never want to make the Big 4 the Braves had, but that’s exactly why they were successful.
Greg Maddux pitched a good game on Monday, John Smoltz wanted to pitch a better game on Tuesday, then Tom Glavine wanted to pitch a better one on Wednesday and Steve Avery wanted to pitch a better one on Thursday.
That’s the hallmark of a good staff. They’re ultra-competitive people and they want to go out and perform the best they can, quite obviously, and I don’t know how you can do better than what they’ve done.
It’s been 70-80 years since a starting rotation has done what the Braves have done in the first 21 games. Two earned runs in 20 of the 21 games is absolutely incredible. Every starter has at least one quality start and what was considered a question mark with this team has become its biggest strength.
It shows what all of us experts know about how a team should be put together. They’ve been so good and the Braves have the luxury of allowing Mike Minor to make six rehab starts in the minor league and allowing themselves to letting Gavin Floyd get really, really strong before they bring him back.
Ultimately, the pitchers in the rotation are doing what you want good, competitive people to do and that’s force the people in positions of influence to make tough decisions about who goes where and when. To their credit, each one of the guys in the rotation has done that.
FSS.COM: You’ve made your feelings on the replay system known before, but one of the unexpected issues to pop up here has been the transfer rule. Chip, you’ve been around this game for quite some time. How chaotic is this making things for defenders?
CC: I think it’s very chaotic.
I have no problem with replay. Are their bugs in it? Yes. Is it going to be good for the game ultimately? Yes. Does baseball the obligation to get as many calls right as they can? Yes and I think they’re doing that.
The problem with the transfer rule is I don’t think it’s been studied as to how much of an impact it’s going to make. The game has got along just fine with this play at second base for more than 100 years and ultimately I think players have unwittingly been put in a situation of danger, because when a player throws the ball at second base, the first instinct is to try to catch the ball, not get out of the way of a guy that’s trying to hit you into next week to break up the double play.
It’s led to a great deal of confusion in the infield and it has changed the tone and tenor of a lot of games already. While I agree baseball will hopefully change this rule, there is going to be a significant number of people who are going to say ‘Wait a minute, this has already impacted pennant races’ and that’s unfortunate.
I’m guessing the simplest solution will be to go back to allow the umpires to interpret the rule as it was interpreted for 100 years and then make that play a non-reviewable play at second base. That takes away all the arguments and all the dissertations and gives them some protection and allows the game to go along where the game is decided by the guys on the field.