Alex Wood was one of the big acquisitions for the Cincinnati Reds this past offseason. He came to the Reds in the Dodgers trade that also brought outfielders Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp, as well as utility player Kyle Farmer. The trade, thus far, hasn’t exactly panned out as the front office had hoped. The team has already released Matt Kemp. Yasiel Puig has been hitting the ball hard of late, but he’s still struggling at the plate overall. Kyle Farmer’s played well, but he’s also been used sparingly. And then there is Alex Wood, who hasn’t yet pitched a single inning.

Alex Wood had a career ERA of 3.29 when he was acquired. He was the kind of guy who was supposed to be plugged into the rotation who could help the team “get the pitching” and stabilize the rotation that needed all of the help it could get. But the left-handers back began to flare up in spring training and he was shut down. At first it wasn’t expected that he’d miss much time. Things would get to the point where he would take the mound and throw in April, but his back didn’t respond after and he was shut back down. Last week he had his back examined and nothing new showed up and the plan is for him to resume throwing in about two weeks, according to manager David Bell.

That leaves open the question of what exactly will the team do if and when Alex Wood is capable of taking the mound again. The Reds rotation has pitched well this season. Sonny Gray has the worst ERA among the group at 4.15. Tanner Roark is sitting at 3.27, while Anthony DeSclafani’s 3.65 and Tyler Mahle’s 3.69 marks are both above-average. And then there’s Luis Castillo, arguably having the best season of any starter in baseball so far. The rotation is getting it done. And the peripherals of the pitchers suggest it’s not exactly a situation where their ERA is lying and they’ve been lucky.

So would the Reds entertain the idea of pushing someone out of the rotation for Alex Wood when he’s ready to return? Guys like Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray won’t be replaced – they are be counted on as staples of the rotation moving forward. But Anthony DeSclafani and Tyler Mahle are both pitching very well right now, too. And then there’s Tanner Roark, who the team is likely hoping to be able to trade away in July for something of value, as he’s an impending free agent. Likewise, Alex Wood is also an impending free agent that the team is likely hoping to cash in if they don’t go on a big run and rack up the wins to get into true playoff contention.

That leaves them in a strange position. Do they put Alex Wood into the rotation if everyone else continues performing at their current level simply because they will be looking to try and get maximum value from him in a trade and that’s only going to happen if he pitches well as a starter? Or would they entertain the idea of pitching him out of the bullpen and try to extract on-field value from him and perhaps some trade value as a reliever at the deadline? If it’s going to be as a starter, it would seem that the only options would be, assuming no injuries in the rotation, DeSclafani or Mahle.

Jesse Winker – out with a tight quad

The Cincinnati Reds haven’t had outfielder Jesse Winker in the lineup for a few days now. The first day he was out was with a left-handed starter on the mound, so there wasn’t much thought about where he was in the lineup. But on Thursday with a right-handed starter on the mound he was once again out of the lineup. Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer noted prior to the game that Winker’s been dealing with tightness in his left quad. On the field before the game Winker tested things out with the training staff and was available to pinch hit on the day, but ultimately was not used. David Bell noted that he was likely to be in the lineup on Friday.

18 Responses

  1. Brian

    I’m kinda tired that in every post revolving these players there’s the assumption that we need them to recoup value to sell in July. Screw that. We have like the 4th best run differential in the NL and we’re 5-12 in one run games. We’re gonna get hot soon, and we’re gonna challenge for the playoffs. Doug, you and the other writers need to get outta here with that noise :).

  2. TMAC

    That’s the likely scenario, because Mahle still has options left.

  3. lost11found

    I am not going to wring hand about the pitcher moves they will make when Wood is healthy until he is healthy. Alot can happen between then and now.

    • Keith

      Agree. Who’s to say that all 5 current pitchers are still healthy when Wood is ready?

  4. Brian S Jolley

    My guess is they send Mahle to AAA until they can trade Wood or Roark. If Wood can establish himself as healthy and effective I think they trade him (catcher?) because he would have the most value. I would not be surprised at all if they flipped both of them. Next year they will have Castillo, Gray, Disco, Mahle plus one more (Santillian/Stephenson/trade/FA). Or they could always bring back Tim Adelman or Scott Feldman.

  5. Reaganspad

    I still do that Dodgers trade for those players and what we gave up.

    I think the bigger deal is not having Don Long

  6. Tom

    Is there any concern with Mahle or Castillo innings limits this year? If so, some starts before the trade deadline for Wood could work (if he’s healthy to do so).

    It would be good to be able to trade Wood and Roark before the deadline.

  7. Scott C

    There are a lot of positives so far in this young season, the starting rotation being just one. So it is a great problem to have that in order for Wood to pitch we have to make room. I believe that in time that will sort itself out. The trade with the Dodgers however is not one of them, so far the best part of that trade has been Farmer a versatile player on defense and a bench bat with some pop. I certainly hope that Puig will get hot and start hitting. Votto as well. Perhaps getting Scooter back will propel the offense in the right direction. I do not however see this team vying for a playoff spot. We still have a lot of games left in the division which are all tough matchups I would like to see us beat up on the Cubs, Brewers, Pirates and Cards before I would start looking at playoffs.

  8. indydoug

    Little early to call it a bust. Puig will hit. He’s been stinging the ball lately.

  9. Amarillo

    Jeff Brantley was saying it would be a full month after he starts throwing. If the timetable right now is 2 weeks and there aren’t any more setbacks, we are 6 weeks away. That’s a long time before we actually need to make a decision. I might put Mahle in the bullpen. Last season it looked like he just got tired mid season and I think it’s more important for his development to be pitching against Major League hitters than starting against AAA hitters.

    • David

      And that’s with no “setbacks”. Back injuries are tough to predict.

      Prediction: Alex Wood will not pitch much at all, if any, for the Reds this year.

  10. David

    Alex Wood will pitch few if any innings for the Reds this year.

    I wouldn’t count on him at all.

    And yes, the Dodger trade has been pretty much of a bust.

    The best thing to come out of it was Kyle Farmer, a career utility player. I wouldn’t count on Puig really getting any better. Why? Because his “career” numbers say he will?

    • Lwblogger2

      That and his age suggests that he shouldn’t just flop this season. I think Puig will hit.

  11. Eddiek957

    I do not see how a trade that allowed us to move Bailey can be seen as a bust

    • Hanawi

      And Josiah Gray, one of the prospects they gave up, was basically the only decent starter they had in the low minors. Has a 1.93 ERA right now.

  12. Chris Miller

    Ahh, the Twitter generation. Lol

  13. Brian S Jolley

    I agree that Disco is the only one of the three they would consider extending. I don’t see the other two being here past the trade deadline, much less next year.

  14. lwblogger2

    Depends on the $$ involved but that is some out-of-the-box thinking and exactly the kind of thing the Reds need to be thinking about. It’s stuff like you propose that a small-market team needs to roll the dice on.