I make no secret about who my favorite Cub is. It’s been Kerry Wood since the day I skipped work to watch him pitch only to watch the best game I’ve ever seen called by one of the worst announcers I’ve ever heard. If you forgot just how good he was when he came up, take a look at the stikeouts that day and look at the movement he was getting on his pitches that day. He was just plain nasty.
Those days are gone and we’re now in the twilight of Wood’s career. At this point, bringing him back was as much a PR move as it was a strategic move. Looking at the projections, you’re not going to see the same pitcher we saw coming up.
It’s hard to really predict a relief pitcher. A lot of the numbers are so superficial. Wins are very much arbitrary. ERA can be blown with one bad outing so that doesn’t really tell the story either. Saves are completely useless so we really need to look at the rate stats to see what to project. Looking in that area it’s clear we’ll still see the strikeouts with roughly the same amount of control. The problem I see with Wood in the future is going to be what happens when the clock strikes midnight and his time is over in this game. There were times last year where he didn’t look like he was capable of getting out of the inning. There were other times he was very good. My fear is we’ll see more of the former than the latter. What happens when that becomes the case. In my mind, Wood is the closest thing we’ve seen to Mr. Cub since Ryne Sandberg. It was a PR hit when he left and a major PR move when he returns. Will the fans have the decency to remember Wood for the time he was healthy and productive or will he always be soured with the tag of “What Could Have Been”.
I don’t know how much we can expect from Wood this year or going forward. What I do know is that I’m going to enjoy every outing I get to see him pitch and know I got to watch one of my favorites.