In a season with few bright spots for the Reds' bullpen, Blake Wood was a success story. Well, maybe a 3.99 ERA and 1.43 WHIP in 70 appearances isn't really success, but given the atrocious performances that Cincinnati got from its other relievers, the 31-year-old really had more success than most, especially for the first four months of the season. Through the end of July, the veteran right-hander possessed a 3.26 ERA and a 9.1 K/9 while giving up just one home run in 49.2 innings pitched. Things went south after that, however, as his ERA over the last two months of the season rose to 5.33 thanks to a walloping 2.7 HR/9 across that span (seven of which came at home). Wood's control was also pretty weak (4.5 BB/9), but given the lack of other viable options in the Reds' bullpen, he seems to be positioned for a position in the middle innings.
Wood has given up four runs over 6.2 innings through the early part of the season. Wood's struggles come with the caveat of eight strikeouts, most likely due to his strike-throwing rate increasing by nine percent. However, opponents are still hitting .296 against him, and he blew his only save opportunity. He's coming off a 3.99 ERA and 1.43 WHIP in 2016, so there isn't much value here even in formats that count holds.
Wood and the Reds avoided arbitration with a $1.275 deal, Jon Heyman of Today's Knuckleball reports. Wood's major league work has been sporadic since making the big leagues in 2010, but he managed to find a regular role with the bullpen-strapped Reds, his third team, in 2016. The 31-year-old posted a 3.99 ERA and 81 strikeouts in 76.2 innings and was rewarded with a decent raise in his first round of arbitration.
Wood allowed two homers in the eighth inning to blow the lead Tuesday against the Cardinals, but was bailed out in the ninth inning when Scott Schebler hit a walk-off homer. The blown save was Wood's fourth of the season. Prior to Tuesday he had allowed only one homer all year. It was interesting to see that none of the Reds' three best relievers (Raisel Iglesias, Michael Lorenzen or Tony Cingrani) worked in this game, and instead Wood was given the ball with the lead in the eighth.
Wood allowed the game-tying run Saturday against the Nats, allowing a run on a hit and three walks over two-thirds of an inning. Wood was lucky to allow just the one run, as Josh Smith was able to induce a pop-out with the bases loaded to strand Wood's three runners. Wood's 3.38 ERA might sughest that he's pitching well, but his 1.55 WHIP, fueled by 26 walks in 40 innings, tells the real story. The bright note for him is that he has allowed only one homer, which makes him an anomaly in the Reds bullpen.
Wood is back with the team after being reinstated from the paternity list Friday. Wood missed the last three games as he spent time with his family. He will be back with the team as they face San Diego on Friday, while outfielder Kyle Waldrop was optioned to Triple-A Louisville to make room for Wood. The 30-year-old reliever has posted a 3.57 ERA with a 1.53 WHIP during 35.1 innings this season.
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