Going into the 2013 season, the Chicago Cubs were hoping that Travis Wood would have a bounce back season after struggling some in his first season with the Cubs. Bounce back season he did have as he pitched to a 3.11 ERA and 1.145 WHIP while earning his first career All-Star appearance.
The season that Wood had last year led for optimism heading into this season, but this year has once again been a struggle for him. Up to this point, Wood has an ERA of 5.08 and opponents are hitting .279 against him. He has been unable to get on track and has struggled to get right-handed batters out, which is something that he excelled at last season.
The numbers that Wood has posted over this season and last, beg the question, who is the real Travis Wood?
Is he the All-Star pitcher that you can count on to make 30 starts a year and pitch to an ERA under 3.50, or is he the guy that has been getting hit hard way too often this season and struggles to keep his ERA under 5.00.
Perhaps a combination of both is who Wood really is. I do not think that Wood is as bad as he has been this season, his control has just not been as sharp as it was last season which has led to some hard contact off of him. I also do not think that Wood will be a perennial All-Star, instead feel that if he is able to put all of his talent together and be very successful he can make an additional All-Star team or two.
Who I believe the real Wood is, is a pitcher that can consistently throw anywhere from 180-200 innings a season and win (with a more consistent offense) 12-15 games. He is most definitely not as bad as he has showed this season, and will turn things around once he begins to locate his pitches better as he did last year. Wood will be able to manage his ERA and keep it at a reasonable number. Although he may never be a superstar type pitcher, I feel that last year was more indicative of the type of pitcher he is than this year.
Expectations could be a reason that Wood has struggles so much this season as coming off of an All-Star appearance expectations were quite high for him and he has failed to live up to the expectations. Perhaps after having a relatively unsuccessful season to date, going into next season with lowered expectations could result in a much better season for Wood.
Having shown that he has what it takes to bounce back after a rough season, there is a good chance Wood could come back next season and return to his 2013 form. Either way, lowered expectations should bring the best out of Wood and Cub fans will see the real Travis Wood.