After a breakout 2013 campaign that saw him net his first career All-Star selection, Chicago Cubs southpaw Travis Wood failed to maintain any type of consistency in 2014, leaving many to ponder what exactly 2015 will look like for the 27-year-old.
The main bright spot for Wood in 2014 was the fact that, despite his struggles, he still amassed 173 2/3 innings – a tally that led all Chicago starters. The bad news? His numbers elsewhere were amongst the worst of his five years in the big leagues. He issued a career-high 3.9 BB/9, allowed almost 10 hits per nine innings pitched and posted a horrendous 1.532 WHIP – the worst mark of his professional career.
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If you break down his season on a month-by-month basis, Wood has a seesaw-like look to his 2014 campaign. In March and April, despite a 1-3 record, he had a respectable 3.52 ERA. However, in May, things took a turn downward, as he saw that mark skyrocket to 6.62 in half a dozen starts. This trend would continue throughout the season as control issues came and went for the southpaw all year long.
- March/April: 3.52 ERA in five starts
- May: 6.62 ERA in six starts
- June: 3.19 ERA in five starts
- July: 6.89 ERA in six starts
- August: 3.18 ERA in six starts
- September: 9.24 ERA in three starts
These consistency issues were seen in a game-to-game basis, as well. When he won his starts, he was the epitome of dominance, posting a 2.21 ERA and a 0.909 WHIP. However, in starts he lost, his earned run average skyrocketed to 8.91, his WHIP rose to 2.010 and opponents hit in the mid-.300s against him. He failed to locate his pitches effectively and opposing batters took advantage of these control woes regularly.
Wood was a centerpiece heading into the 2014 season, expected to anchor a young pitching staff. However, following the trade of both Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, the left-hander failed to step up, posting a second-half line that read as follows:
1-5 record, 5.14 earned run average, 12 starts, 1.664 WHIP, 73 hits allowed in 63 innings pitched
Needless to say, it left a lot to be desired.
With one of – if not the – worst seasons of his big league career now under his belt, 2015 is a pivotal campaign for Wood moving forward. He could reach free agency after the 2016 season and now is the time to prove that last season was a fluke. If he can do that, not only will he help himself; he’ll prove a stable, middle-of-the-rotation presence in the Cubs’ starting rotation next season.