by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
This was supposed to be the year Alex Wood truly broke out. It was supposed to be the year he started in the rotation and stuck there, showing us all what he’s capable of. Instead, through six starts, he’s been a rather big disappointment.
While the ERA is a tolerable (though unimpressive) 4.32, both the strikeouts (6.48 K/9) and WHIP (1.62) have significantly hurt fantasy owners. It’s not that he’s been hit hard (22.6%), but opponents are hitting .308 against him (in part due to an unlucky .370 BABIP). His control has also been an issue (3.51 BB/9), though not to the same extent.
So the question is what’s changed, outside of some bad luck, and if we should hold out hope for a turn around.
His pitch usage is extremely important, as he’s using his sinker more and his change up less:
That’s only half the battle, though, as he also isn’t generating swings and misses with his sinker or change up. Last season the pitches generated Whiffs per swing of 15.96% and 28.62%, respectively. This season? A mere 7.59% and 8.57%. That helps to explain the overall 4.8% SwStr% and significant drop in strikeouts (leading to more balls put in play and more damage against him).
Has his stuff just gotten worse? Could there be a mechanical issue? Is it something else?
To Wood’s credit, he’s owned up to it and seems to think he’s just a small adjustment away. Here’s a quote, courtesy of Mar Bowman of MLB.com (click here for the article) after his last start against the anemic Philadelphia Phillies:
“The sinker and changeup just haven’t been there, and that’s my bread and butter,” Wood said. “It’s one of those things where when I can get that to start clicking, with whatever adjustment we’re going to make between now and Sunday, that’s going to be the difference-maker. It’s just frustrating. I know it’s going to click. It’s just a matter of having it happen. That’s the frustrating part.”
There should be better days ahead. We’ve seen what he’s capable of, bringing strikeouts, control and groundballs to the table. It’s just a matter of him putting it all together. Let’s not forget that last May (albeit over 15.2 IP) he posted a 4.60 ERA and 1.85 WHIP. He figured it out then and he should do it again now.
Could I buy into benching him until he shows signs? Sure, but don’t give up on him all together. There are much better days ahead and you don’t want to miss them.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, MLB.com
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