Alex Wood definitely made a case for the starting rotation after his impressive debut in Spring Training for the Atlanta Braves today. Facing the Detroit Tigers, Wood showed manager Fredi Gonzalez why Tim Hudson‘s departure to the San Francisco Giants this offseason might not be such a bad thing after all following his performance on the mound.
In two innings of work, he allowed three hits and struck out two batters on only 12 pitches, which is pretty efficient for a pitcher in his first start of Spring Training. From the beginning, you could tell Wood wanted to make a statement after the first batter, Ian Kinsler, went down swinging on a scorching 93 mph fastball that blew right by him. He gave up two singles following the strikeout of Kinsler, but both of them were weak and one of them probably could have been caught if Jason Heyward was playing out there.
However, despite allowing two runners to get on, Wood showed some composure with his pitches in order to get out of a jam. Facing Torii Hunter in the cleanup spot, Wood got him to ground out to Dan Uggla for a double play on the first pitch to end the inning.
This might not have been a regular season game, but it was nice to see the young pitcher face a player like Hunter in a pressure situation and deliver. These are situations that he’ll face throughout the course of the year if he becomes one of the five in the starting rotation, and he proved today that he can definitely get the job done as a starter. In fact, when faced with a similar scenario in the second inning against the Tigers, Wood delivered once again. After hitting Andy Dirks with a pitch, which was surprisingly his only ball, Wood allowed a single to Danny Worth with one out to put runners on first and second. Like earlier though, he stepped up to force another double play to end an impressive day on the mound for the Braves.
Following his performance, it will be interesting to see what route Gonzalez decides heading into the 2014 season. Will Gavin Floyd take the fifth spot in the rotation, or will it be Wood? Floyd should be back from his injury soon to get some time in Spring Training, but for now, Wood definitely has the upper hand after his showing today.