Just as my Baseball Essential colleague Nick Shaeflein suspected in his article yesterday on Travis Wood moving to the pen, Tsuyoshi Wada (whose last start date matched that of Travis Wood) will replace him in the Chicago Cubs rotation. He will make that next scheduled start on Tuesday, May 19, versus the San Diego Padres with a 9:10 p.m. CT first pitch.
Wada, 34, first came into the league as a free agent with the Baltimore Orioles near the end of 2011. He was released by the Orioles and signed with the Cubs, only to be released again. He re-signed with the Cubs for good a few days later (for a few dollars less) and joined their Triple-A affiliate, the Iowa Cubs.
He pitched well in 2014, owning a relatively minuscule 2.77 ERA before being called up to the big club. He started 13 more games for the Major League squad that season before suffering a season ending groin injury. Rested and recovered, he started six games this season for the Iowa Cubs tallying 29 strike outs and 10 walks to accompany his 2.86 ERA.
Wood, 28, seems to be continuing the same inconsistent streak that he ended his 2014 campaign with. His nearly 4:1 K/BB ratio this season is the best of his career, but the rest of his work from the mound leaves much to be desired. He’s 2-2 with a save after eight games (seven starts) but his Edwin Jackson-esque 5.45 ERA is beyond atrocious. Even his bating average has fallen off where as he’s usually one of the better “hitting pitchers” in the National League.
Many changes like this happen in a normal baseball season. One hundred sixty-two games is far too many to keep things the same all year long. What Cubs fans should take home from this is that manager Joe Maddon is working things out and making sure that problems that come up don’t stay problems for long. This is one of the major differences between him and pretty much any other manager the Cubs have had over the past few decades.
Wada should continue his 2014 form, which is great for a Cubs team ready to start a new winning streak after having their six-game home winning streak snapped on Sunday.