On Saturday afternoon, Travis Wood earned his first career save by throwing a perfect ninth inning to close out the Chicago Cubs‘ sixth straight win. After having the bullpen taxed the previous day, it was initially thought that Wood was just being asked to save the bullpen and provide a day of relief.
On Sunday, however, there is speculation that Wood may now be in the bullpen for the Cubs for the foreseeable future. It is just the latest move for the streaking Cubs in an effort to try and solve the bullpen conundrum that has been plaguing the team.
After a promising month of April, Wood has run into some difficulties in his three May starts. In only 13.1 innings pitched, Wood has allowed 15 earned runs and six home runs. In 2013, Wood was named an All-Star for the first time in his career, and while he has not missed a start since being inserted into the Cubs’ starting rotation, he has been unable to regain that All-Star form over the last season plus.
Wood will now try to regain that form, and provide a veteran boost to a bullpen that has struggled since the opening two weeks of the season to the tune of having an ERA over 4.00.
The move is yet another in the constant makeover of this Chicago Cubs’ roster. With Edwin Jackson and Wood now in the bullpen, the Cubs are left with zero starting pitchers in the current rotation from the 2013 season. It is likely that Tsuyoshi Wada will be called up and take Wood’s turn in the rotation making his first start of the season Wednesday night against the San Diego Padres.
This move may also speed up the development of C.J. Edwards who is regarded as the Cubs’ top pitching prospect. There are also rumors that if the Cubs are able to continue their winning ways, that perhaps talks of a trade for the likes of a Cole Hamels may start back up again.
While the Cubs have been able to mount a winning streak this week, it has not been without drama of being able to hold down comfortable leads. This season, the Cubs’ staff has been credited with seven blown saves which is near the top in the majors.
Travis Wood may not have a ton of relief pitching experience, but he will bring a positive, veteran mindset to the situation. The move will also allow Joe Maddon to perhaps double switch using only Wood who is one of the better hitting pitchers in the league. This could be another example of trying to provide the most flexibility possible with this Cubs’ roster. While it may not make the best long-term solutions, it will not hurt to experiment with in the short-term. If the Cubs hope to contend down the stretch, they will certainly need to be better in solving the riddle that is the bullpen.