Dodgers: Alex Wood May Need to Move to the Bullpen
The Dodgers have been utilizing a six-man rotation during the first few weeks of September. While I typically like this strategy, especially as the season comes to a close, I can see Dave Roberts needing to decide on who will make the postseason rotation sooner rather than later.
We’ve documented the Dodgers pitching depth this entire season, and for the most part, the rotation has figured itself out this season with multiple players either underproducing or landing on the DL. The Dodgers are down to 13 games left in the season and the postseason roster is all but set when it comes to pitching.
We know the Dodgers have two confirmed arms in the bullpen with Kenley Jansen and Brandon Morrow. The rest of the spots are legitimately up for grabs. While it’s unlikely that Pedro Baez, Tony Watson, Josh Fields Ross Stripling, or Luis Avilan miss the postseason roster, I could see the scenario where Roberts goes with his hottest arms in the NLDS. That potentially means converting a starter into a situational reliever.
The Dodgers are likely to prepare an NLDS roster with a four-man rotation, leaving one spot for Hyun-Jin Ryu, Alex Wood, and Kenta Maeda to compete for. While Alex Wood has had a tremendous season for the Dodgers, I think Ryu has shown enough to deserve that final rotation spot, which would mean Wood would have to transition back to the bullpen where he started the year. This makes the most sense for a few reasons.
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Our contributor Brook Smith wrote an article yesterday making a case for Ryu not only being in the postseason rotation but pitching third behind Kershaw and Darvish. Brook made several good points as to why Ryu should be number three and perhaps the most important one was how consistent Ryu has been after the All-Star break.
Ryu has an ERA over 2.32 since the All-Star break and has been consistently pitching into the 6th inning for the Dodgers. While six innings from your starting pitcher is a great commodity to have in the postseason, Ryu doesn’t need to go six, but rather if he could offer four to five shutdown innings that would put the Dodgers in prime position to win a game.
Now moving Alex Wood to the bullpen wouldn’t be because of Wood’s performance. As I mentioned, he’s had a fantastic season and has been one of the Dodgers most consistent starters all year. But I can’t help but notice that he’s looked fatigue his last four/five starts. While he continues to be effective, his velocity is continuing to drop, and he’s allowing more home runs
With the Dodgers’ need for a situational lefty out of the ‘pen, Wood could figure to fill that role nicely to help get the ball to Morrow and Jansen late in the game. Wood has held lefties to a slash line of .234/.280/.338 this season and could pitch multiple innings out of the bullpen. Those numbers are drastically better than Ryu’s splits which is allowing lefties to hit .328 with a .574 slugging percentage on the season.
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Alex Wood was dominant in his first few appearances out of the bullpen early in the season. He’s up over 140 innings pitched on the season, so perhaps a move to the bullpen could help save his arm for the upcoming seasons. Wood is a far more dominant pitcher than Ryu and could add to an already dominant back end of the bullpen with Morrow, Jansen, and yes I’ll even include Baez. In the postseason a dominant bullpen could be more important than a decent rotation. Wood certainly will help take that Dodgers bullpen to the next level. I think if Roberts is planning on moving either of these guys to the bullpen he should do so right now so that the pitcher can get acclaimed with the new role. Wood is the ideal candidate to take over Stripling’s long relief role or Watson’s lefty situations.