After getting off to a good start in last nights game against the New York Mets, Chicago Cubs pitcher Travis Wood failed to get a win again after the control problems that have plagued him all season long came back to bite him.
Wood walked the first two batters of the fourth inning and after being able to escape the previous two innings unscathed, Eric Campbell hit a three-run home run and ensured Wood would not escape without surrendering any runs. After surrendering the home run Wood was able to settle down and not give up any more runs.
Yet again, the importance of making runners earn their way on-base was on display in last night’s game. Aside from the fourth inning in which Wood surrendered two free passes, two hits and three runs, Wood pitched 4.1 innings allowing two hits and no runs while striking out four. He was able to regain his groove and finished rather strong as his control got better as the game went on.
However, the issue that has caused Wood to struggle all year long, is what doomed him last night. Wood has now walked 65 men in 144.1 innings pitched. He is second in the National League in walks only trailing A.J. Burnett of the Philadelphia Phillies who has 72 walks. In comparison to last year, Wood walked only 66 men in 200 innings pitched. He is just about at that number this year and has thrown a little under 60 innings less. This shows the main reason that Wood has endured much of his struggles this season, failure to command his pitches.
Wood is not the type of pitcher that can fall behind in the count and challenge hitters constantly in 2-0, 3-1 counts. Wood lives on the corners and thus when he gets behind in the count, he is continuously walking people. The same pitches that he was able to make last year, Wood has been unable to make this year and has caused much more traffic on the base paths then there should be if hitters were to earn their way on.
If Wood is unable to locate his pitches as effective as he did last year, he will continue to endure nights similar to last night. Lack of command has been Wood’s achilles’ heel and it came back to haunt him yet again this season. Moving forward, perhaps Wood can regain some command and have momentum heading into next season which should be a better season for the club.