Alex Wood was one of the big acquisitions for the Cincinnati Reds this past offseason. He came to the Reds in the Dodgers trade that also brought outfielders Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp, as well as utility player Kyle Farmer. The trade, thus far, hasn’t exactly panned out as the front office had hoped. The team has already released Matt Kemp. Yasiel Puig has been hitting the ball hard of late, but he’s still struggling at the plate overall. Kyle Farmer’s played well, but he’s also been used sparingly. And then there is Alex Wood, who hasn’t yet pitched a single inning.
Alex Wood had a career ERA of 3.29 when he was acquired. He was the kind of guy who was supposed to be plugged into the rotation who could help the team “get the pitching” and stabilize the rotation that needed all of the help it could get. But the left-handers back began to flare up in spring training and he was shut down. At first it wasn’t expected that he’d miss much time. Things would get to the point where he would take the mound and throw in April, but his back didn’t respond after and he was shut back down. Last week he had his back examined and nothing new showed up and the plan is for him to resume throwing in about two weeks, according to manager David Bell.
That leaves open the question of what exactly will the team do if and when Alex Wood is capable of taking the mound again. The Reds rotation has pitched well this season. Sonny Gray has the worst ERA among the group at 4.15. Tanner Roark is sitting at 3.27, while Anthony DeSclafani’s 3.65 and Tyler Mahle’s 3.69 marks are both above-average. And then there’s Luis Castillo, arguably having the best season of any starter in baseball so far. The rotation is getting it done. And the peripherals of the pitchers suggest it’s not exactly a situation where their ERA is lying and they’ve been lucky.
So would the Reds entertain the idea of pushing someone out of the rotation for Alex Wood when he’s ready to return? Guys like Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray won’t be replaced – they are be counted on as staples of the rotation moving forward. But Anthony DeSclafani and Tyler Mahle are both pitching very well right now, too. And then there’s Tanner Roark, who the team is likely hoping to be able to trade away in July for something of value, as he’s an impending free agent. Likewise, Alex Wood is also an impending free agent that the team is likely hoping to cash in if they don’t go on a big run and rack up the wins to get into true playoff contention.
That leaves them in a strange position. Do they put Alex Wood into the rotation if everyone else continues performing at their current level simply because they will be looking to try and get maximum value from him in a trade and that’s only going to happen if he pitches well as a starter? Or would they entertain the idea of pitching him out of the bullpen and try to extract on-field value from him and perhaps some trade value as a reliever at the deadline? If it’s going to be as a starter, it would seem that the only options would be, assuming no injuries in the rotation, DeSclafani or Mahle.
Jesse Winker – out with a tight quad
The Cincinnati Reds haven’t had outfielder Jesse Winker in the lineup for a few days now. The first day he was out was with a left-handed starter on the mound, so there wasn’t much thought about where he was in the lineup. But on Thursday with a right-handed starter on the mound he was once again out of the lineup. Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer noted prior to the game that Winker’s been dealing with tightness in his left quad. On the field before the game Winker tested things out with the training staff and was available to pinch hit on the day, but ultimately was not used. David Bell noted that he was likely to be in the lineup on Friday.