Dodgers: Injury Update and Alex Wood Injury Fallout

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 05: Alex Wood (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 05: Alex Wood (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

The Dodgers have placed starting pitcher Alex Wood on the 10-day Disabled List before the second game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Dave Roberts provided an update on a few players dealing with injuries just before tonight’s game. The updates were regarding Clayton Kershaw, Cody Bellinger, Alex Wood, and even Brandon McCarthy. I’ll bring you up to speed on all those player updates but want to focus on a more serious update with Alex Wood.

Dave Robert’s Updates:

  • Cody Bellinger took batting practice today and felt no pain in his right ankle. However, the Dodgers are not planning on rushing him back and are “leaning towards” putting him on the DL in the next couple of days. **Update** Cody Bellinger was placed on the 10-day DL retroactive 8/20.
  • Brandon McCarthy is set to go on a rehab assignment “soon.” According to McCarthy’s twitter, he’s expected to have a rehab assignment sometime this week.
  • Scott Kazmir is in Arizona pitching simulated game
  • Alex Wood was placed on the 10-day DL, Brock Stewart has been called up and will start tonight against the Pirates. Wood isn’t expected to make a start until the Padres series, which begins on September 1st. Ross Stripling is a candidate to start in place of Wood on Saturday at home against the Brewers.
  • Walker Buehler is not a candidate to start in place of Alex Wood on Saturday. If Buehler does get called up after September call ups, he will be used in a bullpen role.
  • Clayton Kershaw will pitch in a rehab assignment on Saturday with the Oklahoma City Dodgers. Kershaw is not a possible replacement for Alex Wood on Saturday.

There you have it, those were the updates that Dave Roberts provided. Now onto the big news, Alex Wood. Wood has been placed on the DL for the second time this season with a similar injury, shoulder inflamation in his SC joint.

Wood was placed on the DL back on May 27th with the same injury. Since returning from that DL stint, Wood is 8-1 with a 2.88 ERA. Although the injury is not considered to be as severe as the first time, this could be a big red flag for Dodger fans.

One thing Dodger fans may have noticed was Wood’s uptick in home runs numbers since returning. Since Wood’s return from the DL, he’s allowed nine home runs. That is a drastic jump from the one home run that he gave up in the first two months of the season. Aside from his spike in home run numbers, a well-documented change has been the velocity on his fastball.

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When the season started, Wood was averaging a fastball right around 92 – 94 MPH. Since his return in the middle of June, we haven’t seen Wood’s average fastball velocity surpass more than 92 MPH, including his last two starts where he was averaging 90.5 MPH on his fastballs. A 4 MPH difference may not seem like much, and Wood is still pitching relatively well despite his dip in velocity, but to me, it does signal one thing. Fatigue.

Whenever you hear a pitcher struggling with shoulder inflammation that’s a bad thing. Inflammation in a throwing shoulder often leads to elbow issues somewhere down the road. The difficult thing to manage about shoulder inflammation is that it’s not a muscle injury. Muscles can be strengthened, joints can’t.

Shoulder inflammation that usually means that two bones are rubbing together when you lift your arm above your head, causing extreme discomfort. The fact that Wood was dealing with this injury two months ago shows that he wasn’t fully healed when he returned and that the issue lies with his mechanics.

This is an injury that takes quite a bit of time to heal. If Wood continues to rush back before being 100% healthy, there’s no telling what this could do to his throwing arm. Dave Roberts said the plan for him was to take another cortisone shot, but just numbing the pain isn’t going to make it heal. I wouldn’t think shoulder would be the answer this season, but I think a complete shutdown for three to four weeks should be the road to recovery.

The move for Alex Wood to the DL was a no brainer. He’s undoubtedly been one of the Dodgers most reliable pitchers, but there’s clearly something laboring his health.

I don’t exactly agree with them rushing him back in the first weekend of September. I understand he may need a few starts to get back into a rhythm before October, but what if his role in October doesn’t have to be as a starter?

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I know that sounds crazy considering he’s been one of the best starters we’ve had all season. But if he’s not 100 % healthy, aside from shutting him down altogether, he could be best used as a bullpen piece in the postseason. Afterall, the biggest hole this Dodger team has is a left-handed reliever. I’m not saying this is likely to happen. But if Wood’s health progresses slowly and we hear reports about Wood needed extended rest, I think Roberts has to consider it come mid-September.