Wood fills out rotation; Jackson sent to bullpen
In a bit of the most unsurprising news of the spring,Travis Wood
has won the battle for the Chicago Cubs last rotation spot.Edwin Jackson
will move to the bullpen, most likely as the “long man” once occupied byCarlos Villanueva
As much as the talk was about the competition for the final spot in the rotation, it was really Wood’s to lose. Jackson would have needed Cy Young quality outings this spring (didn’t come close to that), Jacob Turner and Tsuyoshi Wada battled injuries which kept them from having a legitimate chance, and Felix Doubront was horrendous before finally being released.
After an All-Star season in 2013, the Cubs had hoped they had found themselves one of the best left-handed starters in the game. Unfortunately the consistency issues that have been there throughout his career found Wood again. After a posting a 3.11 ERA in 2013, last season’s ballooned to 5.03.
The good news is, Wood actually mixed in quite a few quality starts, but when he was bad—he was very bad. The realistic landing spot for Wood as a starter in a high-three to low-four ERA. Which with the Cubs potential offensive capability would work just fine.
Jackson’s move to the bullpen was expected–if the team had planned to release him it would have happened much earlier. So they may be hoping he can flourish in a relief role for the team’s benefit–or possibly his trade value. Either or, he needs to get comfortable out there.
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With Wood, the rotation will be Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, Jason Hammel, Wood then Kyle Hendricks. Most will feel Hendricks should be the number four, but this is more about breaking up the two lefties in Wood and Lester–not Hendricks worth.
On paper, the rotation has promise. For Arrieta it will be about moving to the next level and logging more innings. Hammel hopes to return to the pitcher he was with the Cubs in his prior stop, and so far has looked the part. Lester is simply Lester, and will do what he does. While Hendricks hopes to build on his excellent rookie year while Wood looks to bounce back from a tough 2014.
The saying goes “you’re only as good as that days starter”. So, without Jackson ever being that guy–the Cubs look a lot better.