Despite the day or two where it looked like he could jump ship to a contender, there wasn’t much doubt that Kerry Wood would be back with the Chicago Cubs in 2012. That doesn’t mean everyone was entirely pleased about it, though.
While a big majority of fans were happy to see Kid K return for another season of Cubs baseball, there was also another group that questioned whether or not it was worth it to bring Wood back, given his age and obvious injury history, or set him free to another club.
At this point, those who fell into the later category are already firing up their “I told you so’s”. Wood has struggled mightily this season, both with his health and with his pitching. Those struggles have done no favors for a bullpen that has had plenty of issues getting it together this season.
The biggest issue for Wood has been his command. His strikeouts are down, instead walking an absurd nearly 13 hitters per nine. That was on display when Wood threw nine consecutive balls in the 12th inning against the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday.
It’s the command that has Wood down, with an ERA near 10 this year. Luckily his ground ball rate, at a touch over 41 percent, is as high as it’s ever been in his career, or it could be worse for Kerry Wood.
Health must be playing a heavy hand in this. Wood wasn’t right during spring training, sitting most of March out, and has already made one visit to the disabled list this season, with fatigue in his throwing shoulder. After how great Wood was last season, it’s nearly impossible to come up with a decent explanation for his quick decline other than his health.
Hopefully, Wood’s outing against the Brewers on Friday was a step in the right direction. Despite those issues with his control, Wood didn’t allow a run in two innings of work and touched 95 MPH on the radar gun. We’ll see if that has a positive impact on him at all moving forward.
I’m not ready to jump on the bandwagon with the folks proclaiming that this is the end of Kerry Wood. But there are some obvious issues, most likely his health, that need to be worked out. Until we see a Kerry Wood that can actually say is healthy, we can’t really pronounce his career dead.