Chicago Cubs former player Kerry Wood – Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Starting Pitcher: Kerry Wood (1998)
Kerry Wood was an instant star with the Cubs and the city of Chicago. Being drafted by the Cubs fourth overall in the 1995 draft – Wood would have success and show the Cubs what to expect from him – a lot of strikeouts.
Being ranked highly in his three years while in the Cubs’ Minor League affiliates – he wasn’t expected to be in the Minors for very long.
He would make his debut in 1998 for the Cubs on April 12 versus the Expos. While it was a rough outing – going four and two-thirds of the game – giving up four earned runs on four hits and three walks – he would strike out seven.
He would win his next and split his next two – going into May two and two. May would bring history to Wrigley Field via Wood and his powerful arm.
May 6, 1998 – the day “Kid K” would be born. On this day versus the Houston Astros – Kerry Wood would make MLB history – striking out 20 batters – tying Roger Clemens 9-inning strikeout record and surpassing Bill Gullickson’s single-game record for a rookie at 18 punch-outs in a game.
He hit one batter in the game and gave up a hit – the hit would come into question by some. Because the ball hit Kevin Orie‘s glove – it made some question if it should have been scored an error. It wasn’t.
The Cubs new rookie ace would go on to his next start and strikeout 13 Diamondbacks.
Wood finished the year with a 13-6 record with a 3.40 ERA and finished third in the NL in strikeouts with 233. Despite missing the last month of the season due to elbow tiredness/discomfort – he’d win the National League Rookie of the Year – narrowly beating out Colorado’s Todd Helton.
“Kid K” would struggle with injuries throughout his career – but would go on to have a very good career and become one of the Cubs’ favorite players. Just imagine how great he could have been if not for those arm troubles.
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