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How good is Alex Wood as a starter?

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Really good

Scott Cunningham

In 101.2 innings pitched as a starter this year, Alex Wood has a 2.83 ERA, which would be the lowest mark of any Braves starter this year, including Julio Teheran (with a minimum of 10 starts made). He struggled in his bullpen stint, possibly due to being bounced back and forth between the rotation and bullpen, but as a starter Wood has certainly been impressive in his first full season as a major leaguer.

What makes me confident in Wood as a starter is his ability to mix his pitches and get both lefties and righties out with equal consistency. This year, right handers have a .303 wOBA against Wood and lefties have a .305 wOBA. The reason he is able to do this is an extremely impressive changeup. While his violent delivery would make one think he would be specifically difficult against lefties, his best pitch is his changeup which he is forced to back off from against hitters of his same handedness.

We now have seen almost 200 innings of Wood as a major leaguer. The increase in home runs have been a surprise, given his ability to limit them in the minors for his career and in the majors last season, but otherwise he seems to be improving across the board. He is more comfortable with his secondary pitches, as his fastball is being thrown 57% of the time rather than the 64% mark he posted last season.

In those 200 innings he has a 3.10 ERA, 3.07 FIP, 3.23 xFIP, and 3.22 SIERA. Essentially, both his actual results and all of his peripherals suggest he is very close to the pitcher we have seen over the past calendar year.

Many were concerned his delivery would force him into the bullpen full time. The Braves commitment to stick with him as a starter has been admirable and his performance has only backed up their confidence in taking him in the second round. Many other teams shied away from him given his previous elbow surgery and his delivery, but the Braves took a risk on another guy right in their back yard and it has certainly paid off so far -- and likely will continue to in the near future. While the Braves have not been as successful of late as they once were in the draft, Wood looks to be one of the better picks they have made in the past five seasons.