Would the Real Travis Wood Please Stand Up?

What a difference a year makes!?!

Travis Wood has gone from unquestioned part of the core to one big question mark for a rotation that will undoubtedly look to add arms during the offseason. What really needs to be figured out is whether this is the real Travis Wood and if last year was an aberration. Let’s see what the numbers say:

  • 2013: 9-12,  200 IP, 3.11 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 6.48 K/9, 2.97 BB/9 , 2.6 WAR
  • 2014: 8-13, 173.2 IP, 5.03 ERA, 1.53 WHIP,  7.57 K/9, 3.94 BB/9,  1 WAR

Obviously the number that jumps out from those lines is the extra walk per 9 innings that he is giving up this season compared to last. Wood’s innings in 2014 have come in one less start than last year, so we can see that he is not going as deep into the games as last season.

Now let’s look more closely at Wood’s career as a whole as we try to answer the titular question.  I will focus on FIP, K/9 and BB/9 and FIP- (which is league and park adjusted, 100 is average, lower than 100 is better). These numbers are what pitchers can control themselves as they take the bump every 5th day. It isn’t a perfect science, but it shows enough to get a clearer picture of what we are working with here:

2011 (w/ Reds): 4.06 FIP, 6.45 K/9, 3.40 BB/9, 104 FIP-

2012:  4.84 FIP,  6.87 K/9, 3.12 BB/9, 121 FIP-

2013: 3.89 FIP, 6.48 K/9,  2.97 BB/9, 101 FIP-

2014: 4.38 FIP, 7.57 K/9 , 3.94 BB/9,  135 FIP-

These numbers shed a little more light on the true Travis Wood and, to paraphrase Denny Green, he is who we thought he was. Wood is an average to slightly below-average pitcher who can give you great stretches, but is not a great bet to do it for a whole season.

Perhaps he can put it all together and cut his walks down while increasing his K/9 innings. Far be it for me to say that he can’t be better than his best, but I just don’t believe the numbers bearing that out. What we see from Travis Wood is what we are going to get, and that is average results. Results that could be duplicated by Felix Doubront, who is a year younger, for a fraction of the cost.

I have heard it bandied about that Travis Wood is a non-tender candidate and I would stop short of saying that because league-average lefties don’t grow on trees (but just to be sure, can anyone confirm this?). I could, however, see a scenario play out where Wood is moved because the composition of the rotation warrants it (read as: hopefully we have Jon Lester in our rotation and Felix Doubront makes a lot less money than Wood will command, and no way we would have 3 lefties in our rotation)

Either way you slice it, what we have seen from Travis Wood is average results at best. Now the big decision will be if we continue to see those average results in a Cubs’ uniform or somewhere else as the rotation gets overhauled during the offseason.

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