Alex Wood has been impressive in each of his two major league seasons, albeit in a limited number of starts. Wood, who turns 24 in January, owns a 1.119 career WHIP and has struck out almost exactly one batter per each of his 249 career innings. However, only 35 of his 66 career games have been starts, including 24 out of 35 in 2014.
As the Braves are still searching for a 5th starter at the moment, Wood will undoubtedly be used as a full time starter in 2015. This should be the season that we finally get the answer to the question, “How many innings could Alex Wood chuck, if Alex Wood could chuck innings unencumbered by some arbitrary restrictions placed by management?”
The good news for the Braves is that Wood has actually pitched better as a starter, so it is not as if he has been padding his stats with short, maximum effort relief appearances, and he also has a sustainable .306 career BABIP as a starter. He averaged 6.5 innings pitched per start in 2014, so he goes relatively deep into games by today’s standards.
One caveat: Wood has an unusual delivery, and the Braves have been leading the way in MLB’s Tommy John revolution for some years now. If reading some random guy on the internet makes you feel better, my gut tells me that Alex is going to stay healthy this year (please don’t read the same prediction that I made last year for Kris Medlen). I don’t believe that anyone has ever put a finger on what really causes pitcher injuries, be it mechanics, pitch counts, year round baseball, or whatever, but I’m not worried about Wood’s delivery in the short term. As he ages and loses flexibility, he may see some issues à la Tim Lincecum, but I predict good times for Alex Wood in 2015.