It may be only Spring Training where the games do not count, but that certainly has not excused a few tense moments for the Atlanta Braves. In back-to-back starts, the Braves saw projected starters Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy leave games early due to arm troubles. On the mound against the Washington Nationals was young left-hander Alex Wood. With the pitching staff taking recent hits, what lies ahead now for Wood in 2014?
Wood made his third outing of the spring and was stellar against the Nats. He tossed four innings allowing one unearned run on just four hits. For the spring, he has now logged nine innings allowing zero earned runs on minimal hits and one walk. Wood may not be a power pitcher who garners a ton of strikeouts, but he has shown the ability to get hitters out which is the key factor. After spending time in both the bullpen and rotation last year, is Wood now ready to be converted into a full-time starter this year?
The Braves also have minor injury concerns with lefty Mike Minor as well who may miss one or two turns through the rotation to start the season. These injury concerns have sprung Atlanta into signing free-agent pitcher Ervin Santana. It suddenly becomes a key acquisition as Santana will not only have an immediate impact on the rotation but also help the young arms like Wood and Julio Teheran.
Atlanta has the ability to play deep into October with the roster they have assembled. However, they will need contributions from their stars on offense as well as the youngsters within the rotation. While the addition of Santana is great for the staff, look for Wood to set up and become the 2014 unsung hero for the Braves. With an opportunity to now entrench himself into the rotation all season long, much-needed impactful double-digit wins could be within his grasp for the 2014 season.
Nick Schaeflein is a sports writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ptchr2424 or add him to your network on Google.