Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Welcome Back to the Blue, Alex Wood!

As I'm sure you know by now, the Dodgers have re-signed Alex Wood to a one-year free agent contract, and this Dodger fan is happy to have him back. Apparently, he feels the same way, via Wood's twitter:
BTW, according to Ken Rosenthal his contract is for $4 million, with incentives that could reach a potential $10 million value. As you may recall, Alex Wood was traded to the Cincinnati Reds, along with Yasiel Puig, before the 2019 season, but pitched in only seven games due to back issues. Per Anthony Franco at MLB Trade Rumors:
He didn’t make his season debut until July 28, and only once did he exceed six innings in a start. Never an extremely hard thrower, Wood’s 89.98 MPH average sinker velocity last season, per Brooks Baseball, was down over two MPH from his career-best 2017 effort.
Nevertheless, Wood's signing makes a lot of sense for the Dodgers. They get a pitcher that they know a lot about and he's a guy who could potentially eat some innings for them -- assuming he can stay healthy. More importantly, Alex Wood has been working out with Rob Hill, the Dodgers new Pitching Coordinator and Driveline Baseball coordinator this winter, so we could see a revitalized Alex Wood on the mound in 2020. BTW, Kenley Jansen is also working out with Rob Hill. Per a tweet from Hill in November:
On a side note, since the recent Astros cheating revelations an old story from 2017 has been unearthed that involved Alex Wood and Game 4 of the World Series. Via Alden Gonzalez and Jesse Rogers at ESPN:
A longtime scout cited Game 4 of the 2017 World Series from Minute Maid Park to prove a point about the Astros' sign-stealing chicanery. Dodgers starting pitcher Alex Wood performed well, giving up only one run and one hit over the course of 5⅔ innings -- but his process was telling. 
That night, Wood and his catcher, Austin Barnes, switched their sequence every eight pitches or so out of paranoia that the Astros were stealing the signs, the scout said. Earlier this offseason, in the wake of Mike Fiers' public comments about the Astros' illegal sign-stealing, Wood told The Athletic that he had "heard whispers of some of the shady stuff they'd been doing" and thus accounted for them -- though he did not realize the extent of them. 
The Astros went 8-1 at home while on their way to a championship that October, winning every postseason game except the one against Wood. The seven other starting pitchers who faced the Astros at Minute Maid Park that month -- names such as Chris Sale, Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Yu Darvish and Clayton Kershaw -- gave up a combined 28 runs in 31⅓ innings. 
The scout also recalled a handful of ugly swings and misses by some of the Astros' stars during that postseason, when the bat path was nowhere near the pitch's trajectory. 
Strangely, this also provided him with confirmation. 
"Good hitters don't miss pitches like that," the scout said, "unless they think they are getting something hard and they get spin instead."
Below are a couple of articles about this recent signing I thought worth pointing to:
Still, Wood doesn’t have to pitch like it’s 2017 again for this to work out for the Dodgers. Even if he only hits his modest Steamer projections—128 innings, 4.09 ERA, 1.6 fWAR—he’ll be a steal. Not every team has a pitcher of that quality to swing between the rotation and the bullpen. The problem for Wood is that the Dodgers have several of those kinds of pitchers. Ross Stripling and Kenta Maeda might be the second or third best starters on lesser teams, but with the Dodgers, they have to fight with Dustin May, Julio UrĂ­as, Tony Gonsolin, and now Jimmy Nelson.
In honor of Wood's signing I made a fantasy custom card that you can see at the very top of this post.

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* Dodgers Blue Heaven home page *

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