Wood emphasized strength training and conditioning less this offseason, focusing instead on his mechanics, Rowan Kavner of Dodger Insider reports. Injuries limited Wood to only seven games last season, thus reducing his need for substantial rest following the end of the campaign. He started throwing in October and spent time at Driveline Baseball in Washington, where he made four visits of three-to-five days each. The change in approach paid dividends for Wood this spring as he struck out seven batters in 5.2 innings and reportedly displayed increased velocity on his fastball. The southpaw is expected to start the regular season as the Dodgers' fifth starter.
Wood was confirmed as the Dodgers' fifth starter by manager Dave Roberts on Monday, Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times reports. Wood has recorded an ERA below 4.00 in each of his seven big-league seasons except for his injury-filled campaign with the Reds last year. Now back in Los Angeles and showcasing increased velocity in camp following an offseason trip to Driveline Baseball, the lefty could be a great value this draft season, though health remains a concern. The Dodgers are deep in rotation options as usual and may seek to limit Wood's workload.
Wood has been clocked consistently at 92-93 mph on his fastball in spring training, Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reports. Wood is one of multiple Dodgers pitchers who worked with the esteemed Driveline Baseball program in the offseason, and the results are showing with a jump in velocity early on. Wood's fastball hasn't averaged above 91 mph since 2017, when the southpaw struck out 151 batters in 152.1 innings. For comparison, the veteran hurler averaged only 89.9 mph on his fastball last season as his strikeout rate dipped to 19.6 percent. Wood has indicated that he will be the Dodgers' fifth starter this season and could be a fantasy sleeper if the uptick in velocity holds.
Wood is scheduled to start Sunday's Cactus League game against the Giants, Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times reports. Wood's main goal this spring might be just be to get through the exhibition slate unscathed. As a member of the Reds last season, Wood experienced back stiffness in early March and struggled to move past the issue, with his regular-season debut for Cincinnati not coming until late July. The injury cropped up again in September, but the Dodgers were apparently confident enough with the lefty's health to bring him back in free agency on a one-year, $4 million deal. Wood was a mainstay in the Dodgers' rotation from 2016 through 2018 and submitted a 3.29 ERA over that stretch, but he'll be forced to compete for a starting role coming off his down year in Cincinnati. If Wood is unable to crack the Opening Day rotation, he'll likely move into a long-relief role.
Wood signed a one-year, $4 million contract with the Dodgers on Sunday, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports. Wood spent an injury-plagued season with the Reds in 2019, posting a 5.80 ERA over seven starts as he dealt with a back injury. The southpaw will return to the Dodgers, where he recorded a 3.29 ERA with a 1.15 WHIP over three seasons with the team prior to 2019. The team may use caution with the 29-year-old after the setbacks he faced last year, but he should be ready to perform for spring training.
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