The lefty with the Tazmanian delivery was shelved for much of last season, as arm woes disabled him in early June and in-season elbow surgery took him out until mid-September. His pitching motion is a site to behold, with his head veering every direction throughout the course of his delivery, and it's somewhat amazing that he can hit spots at all with such a blatant imbalance in his mechanics. It's even more shocking that he can maintain something approaching a league-average walk rate with that shaky delivery, but Alex Wood has stayed within spitting distance of 3.0 BB/9 in each of the past three seasons. Wood will be one of a dozen contenders for a spot in back of the Dodgers' rotation in the spring, though his combination of bullpen experience, recent health issues and the leftward-leaning starting staff of the Dodgers could very well conspire to keep him in the bullpen.
Wood currently projects to be a part of the Dodgers' rotation at the start of the season, the Orange County Register's Bill Plunkett reports. Clayton Kershaw, Kenta Maeda, Rich Hill, Brandon McCarthy and Wood figure to make up the rotation to start the season, assuming nothing changes between now and Opening Day. This essentially means that Wood has passed Hyun-Jin Ryu in the pecking order, in part because he has pitched so well, and in part because the Dodgers may want to be cautious with Ryu in the early going. Wood has a 3.18 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 11 strikeouts in 11.1 innings this spring. With Ryu building up arm strength and Julio Urias being held back in an order to allow him to pitch into the postseason, there will be ample replacement options should Wood struggle out of the gate, but this development makes him worth rostering for now in most formats. He posted a 3.99 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and 62:19 K:BB in 56.1 innings as a starter last season, although he averaged less than six innings per start.
Wood started Sunday's split-squad game against the White Sox, surrendering a run on three hits while striking out three over his three innings of work. Wood -- who is competing for both a role and a spot on the Opening Day roster -- is quietly having a solid spring. The southpaw has a 3.86 ERA with six strikeouts in his seven innings of Cactus League action. However, Wood's ability to pitch out of either the rotation or the bullpen may end up hurting his chances of joining the Dodgers' rotation to start the year. If Wood does make the rotation out of camp, he would be an intriguing fantasy asset due to his strong strikeout rate (8.15 career K/9) and pitcher-friendly home venue.
Wood will work as a starter in spring training, Eric Stephen of SB Nation reports. An elbow injury kept Wood on the shelf for much of 2016 and he worked out of the bullpen upon his return in September. However, the offseason has allowed him to enter camp at full strength, so he will stretch out as a starter. That said, the Dodgers' embarrassment of riches in terms of proven starters will make it difficult for him to crack the rotation come Opening Day.
Wood and the Dodgers avoided arbitration with a one-year, $2.8 million deal, Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reports. Wood was in the middle of a notable uptick in strikeouts as a starter before an elbow injury knocked him out for most of the season. He eventually managed to return in the bullpen in September and pitched a couple innings in the playoffs. He's likely to enter 2017 as a starter given that manager Dave Roberts said that the reason he returned as a reliever was he simply didn't have enough time in the season to build back up. This was his first round of arbitration.
Wood (elbow) was activated from the 60-day disabled list Tuesday. As expected, Wood will finally return to the Dodgers pitching staff after roughly three and a half months on the shelf. The left-hander will likely occupy a swingman role for the rest of the season. To make room for him on the 40-man roster, Bud Norris was designated for assignment.