LHP Alex Wood was arguably the piece of the Homer Bailey deal with the Dodgers that had the most value to the Reds. Wood (28) has a career 3.29 ERA and 3.49 xFIP with the Dodgers and Braves. He becomes a free agent at the end of this season. But he’s been sidelined with a back injury since spring training. Recent reports indicate Wood is taking early steps to get back on the mound. So the question for our panel of writers is this:
Question: Where does a healthy Alex Wood fit in the Reds pitching plans?
Chris Garber: I think Alex Wood is still a key part of the Reds’ plan, and will slot right into the rotation when he returns. The real question is whether he takes the place of Tyler Mahle, who has options, or Anthony Desclafani, who has clearly been the least effective member of the rotation.
Doug Gray: This is a tough question with a few different layers. Right now, everyone is healthy. But Alex Wood is still a month away from being ready to pitch this season and all of that could change. With that said, even if everyone is healthy the first place to look would be Anthony DeSclafani, who is struggling this season. His ERA sits at 4.70 and he continues to give up home runs at an incredibly high rate. There’s time for him to turn it around, but it needs to start the next time out and keep going. In the bullpen there’s possibly some more room. Of course, who knows what the bullpen will look like a month from now? This team swaps guys in and out every 2 weeks. One of the lefties that have had some struggles – Peralta or Duke, could be on the outside looking in.
Nick Kirby: This “problem” will probably take care of itself. The Reds have been fortunate that the five starters they began the season with are still healthy, but the chances that keeps up for much longer is slim. However, if Wood comes back and everyone is still healthy, I would put Wood in the bullpen until a spot opens up. Wood has the experience and success as a reliever which none of the Reds current starters have. Wood would certainly bolster the bullpen and it might help him stay healthy. If DeSclafani doesn’t turn it around there could certainly be a case made for moving him to the pen or AAA, but everyone has really solidified themselves, including Tyler Mahle.
Jason Linden: I think DeSclafani should go to the bullpen. He’s been the least good of the starters, probably isn’t part of the longterm pictures, and hasn’t exactly pitched a full season recently. I don’t know if that’s what WILL happen. I think there’s a good chance Mahle goes down, which is silly. Anyway, one of those two things is what will happen. I don’t see any other possible options.
Steve Mancuso: Assuming everyone is healthy, I’d send Tanner Roark to the bullpen and put Alex Wood in the starting rotation. Luis Castillo, Tyler Mahle and Sonny Gray should be locks for the starting five. That leaves Tanner Roark and Anthony DeSclafani. This is one of those situations where looking at ERA is misleading. Instead, the two composite metrics I look at for evaluating pitchers are xFIP and SIERA. DeSclafani has been better in both of those. Roark’s xFIP is 4.50 while Anthony DeSclafani’s is 4.48. Disco has an edge of 4.22 to 4.49 in SIERA and has better K% and BB% than Roark. Beyond that, Roark has bullpen experience at the major league level. When he was acquired by the Reds this winter, Roark said he wouldn’t mind any role, including the bullpen. Roark becomes a free agent in 2020 while DeSclafani is under Reds control through 2020.