June 9, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Alex Wood (58) pitches in the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Braves Move Alex Wood To The Pen


As was widely expected and I predicted here a couple of days ago, the insertion of Gavin Floyd into the rotation has now resulted in the Braves formally moving Alex wood to the bullpen.

Wood is certainly a boost for a bullpen whose only remaining lefty – Luis Avilan – has struggled this year. As a reliever Woody has appeared in 20 games last season, throwing 212/3 innings and allowing 5 runs on 17 hits – no home runs – and striking out 23 while walking only 5. That translates to an ERA of 2.08 and more importantly in my view a WHIP of 1.015 and a strand rate of 77.3%. Even though Brooks Baseball shows Woody using a 4 seam fastball he’s decidedly a ground ball pitcher as a starter – 46.3% in 2013 – and even more inclined that way as  a reliever; 57.7%. Wood’s fastballs gain a little bit when he pitches in relief making them harder to hit. Hitters put up a .233/.275/.288/.563 line against him in relief last season.

The move is sort of temporary as Woody will start next weekend  in St Louis. San Francisco but that’s mostly due to the long road trip  after that it’s on an as needed basis.

UPDATE:

This move allows the Braves to kill two birds with one stone. As well as strengthening their bullpen, it limits Wood’s innings early on and keeps him fresh for the final post season push and hopefully October baseball.

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  • http://www.tomahawktake.com/ Chris Headrick

    I want to see Mike Minor start getting his game together quickly, or these moves – Wood to the pen, Hale to the pen, could come back to haunt the Braves, at least short term. Obviously Fredi can move the chess pieces around, but pitchers need to get into grooves. Pitchers tend to be creatures of habit (trust me, I was a pitcher), and too many chess moves can upset the balance. I argued earlier that Mike Minor could upset the balance upon his return. I’m still thinking that.

    • fireboss

      I think expecting Minor to be game perfect in essentially his first start after spring training is unrealistic. He will settle in and be the guy he has been. The Hale move had to happen, he’s at best a 3 and Minor is a better pitcher who won’t get into form sitting at Gwinnett or in the pen. Keeping Floyd in the rotation is – I believe – just a precursor to allowing Harang to regress quickly ans lip Woody back into the rotation. Until Harang – or Floyd – stops being the hot hand Woody is extremely valuable in the pen. If Wren can’t sign Minor long term and the Braves continue to slide you could see him traded; he is not a happy man in Atlanta. He feels with some justification that the Braves don’t respect what he’s done.
      The Braves over the past 6 years or so have become ham handed when dealing with players. This goes back to Smoltz but includes Glavine, Kawakami and Medlen to name just the 4 most obvious cases. Regardless of what their reasons they treated these folks badly. Minor is less willing to be treated that way. Medlen was a 10th round pick who had to prove himself and was just glad to get his chance in any role. Minor was a first round pick and knows there are teams who will treat him better. He saw the extended stint in rehab and Braves spin about it as further proof management was indecisive and simply waiting for fate to make the decision for them. I agree with that. The old “these things work themselves out” cliche is just another way of saying we don’t know what to do so we’ll diddle around until we must make a move.
      This is starting to look like a post so I’ll stop now :)

  • aRunning_Maniac

    Personally, I think I would have rather of had Wood be sent to Gwinnett to continue starting, and have his innings closely monitored there. I feel uneasy when a young pitcher, especially one as talented as Wood, is being thrown back and forth between the bullpen and rotation. I understand that management is limiting his innings, and that’s fine, I just think they could have gone about it in a safer manner. I realize it’s tough to know what “safe” is at this point, what with as many pitching injuries there are these days, and how random they seem at times. But what the Braves are beginning to do with Alex, it’s exactly how they handled Kris Medlen. We all know how things have turned out on that front.

    So yeah, I would have preferred Wood to be sent down. Or what they could have done was allow him to stay in the rotation and simply limit his innings per start, similar to what Colorado did last year with their 4-man rotation. Have Alex throw 5 innings, then lift him, and put in either Hale or Varvaro for a couple of innings.

    • fireboss

      The Braves problem is at least three fold. First they had 6 starters when Floyd and Minor were added and they expect Harang to tire as the season goes on and when he does they want Wood ready. Secondly they have this long road trip where they need a sixth starter at least once and didn’t want to jerk him around down and up and back down. Third they really needed another dependable lefty in the pen. For all the talk of Braves pitching depth our left handed relief options are slim. The recalled Ian Thomas today when Walden went on the DL and if the slider he added stays good he could be that guy but they wouldn’t want to depend on him until that’s settled.
      I’d like Wood to stay in the rotation too but I don;t see how they do it with the options they have.