Scouting Report: Travis Wood: Buy or Sell?

Travis Wood has quickly made an impression on fantasy owners, despite being winless in his first four starts.  Should we consider him a pitcher worth owning?  At first glance there certainly is nothing not to like, but when you start digging into things there are good reasons to be skeptical.

First, let’s look at his line:

0 Wins
26.2 Innings
2.03 ERA
0.79 WHIP
23 Strikeouts (7.8 K/9)
9 Walks (3.0 BB/9)
.161 BABIP

Clearly, the BABIP is a huge red flag.  That’s just an impossible number to be maintained and shows how someone can benefit from luck over a small sample size.  Just compare his mark to the best (and extremely lucky) leader, Trevor Cahill’s .225.  In 2009, the best BABIP was .257 (Jarrod Washburn & Randy Wolf).

If Wood is going to continue starting in the Major Leagues, the luck is going to regress in a big way.

He also may regress in the number of home runs allowed.  He’s currently posting a fly ball rate of 46.3%.  That number may be high, compared to his 40.4% mark over his minor league career, but he has also benefited from a HR/FB of just 6.5%. 

Considering the ballpark he calls home, it’s hard to imagine that type of number continuing.  So far he’s only started one game at Great American Ballpark, allowing one home run in six innings of work.  Just wait and see what happens when he starts more games there.

It is also fair to have concerns about his control.  Prior to 2010, his minor league BB/9 was 3.8 (over 529.1 innings).  Then again, most of his struggles came prior to 2009.  Just look at his numbers since:

  • 2009 – Double-A – 119.0 IP – 2.8 BB/9
  • 2009 – Triple-A – 48.2 IP – 3.0 BB/9
  • 2010 – Triple-A – 98.0 IP – 2.1 BB/9

So, that is believable, as is his strikeouts.  Still, the concern over the BABIP just hangs over him and screams to stay away.  That type of number just can’t be maintained, so a big-time falloff is likely coming.

What are your thoughts?  Do you trust Wood?  Why or why not?

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2 comments

  1. La Posse says:

    I picked him up off the waiver wire and dropped Edwin Jackson who was driving me crazy. If Wood can string a couple of good starts together before people catch up to him, isn’t that all you can ask for in a #5 or #6 fantasy pitcher?

  2. Will Overton says:

    I think his BABIP is impossible to maintain, but so is his 2.03 ERA. Both numbers are affected by the fact that he’s only had 4 starts and one was a 1 hit 9 inning shutout, so naturally those numbers are skewed right now.

    I think in the end the BABIP obviously comes up to a more reasonable number as does the ERA, but I do think he has the potential to keep the ERA around the 3.50 mark. And the K potential and good showings so far make me willing to risk him over some of the other back end starting pitcher options in standard leagues.

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