What to Watch in Alex Wood’s First Career Start for Atlanta Braves
Alex Wood will make his first career MLB start in Game 1 of the double-header between the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets. One of the top prospects in the organization, Wood tore up double-A Mississippi by posting a 4-2 record and 1.26 earned run average before being promoted to the bullpen in Atlanta where he’s posted a 3.52 ERA in six games. However, the 22-year-old left-hander projects to be a starter, and Tuesday’s start will be the first glimpse of what he will offer in the future.
The tendency for young starters in their first game is to overthrow, which oftentimes leads to shaky mechanics and the inability to go further into the game. Wood features good velocity on his fastball and should sit around 92-94 MPH. Keep an eye on his velocity in the early going to see if he’s calm and trusting his stuff or nervous and trying to do too much.
Perhaps the most important aspect of his start today will be his command on the hill. Is he throwing strikes? Does he trust his off-speed pitches or rely on the fastball? Having veteran catcher Gerald Laird behind the plate should help Wood in attacking the Mets’ lineup. He will need to trust Laird to call the game and just worry about executing that pitch. Wood should be fine in Tuesday’s start as long as he doesn’t issue free passes.
Wood will be making his first start since May 25 when he went seven innings against Mobile in the Southern League. He has thrown just 7.2 innings since that start. Manager Fredi Gonzalez will undoubtedly be monitoring his pitch count very carefully in knowing those numbers. I’d look for Wood to throw about 80 pitches on Tuesday—depending on the amount of success he has.