Alex Wood earned his first Major League win on Tuesday night when he made his third start of the season for the Atlanta Braves as they hosted the Colorado Rockies at The Ted. The Braves pounded out 14 hits while plating 11 runs to give the lefty more than enough run support en route to his first big league win.
Wood recorded his first High Quality Start at the Major League level after allowing six hits and three earned runs in 7.0 innings of work. The 22-year old rung up seven strikeouts while walking only one in the 99-pitch performance.
The North Carolina native has now appeared in 18 games with Atlanta after opening the season with Double-A Mississippi, and has compiled a 1-2 mark with an ERA of 3.51. Wood has a WHIP of 1.23, and has racked up 38 K’s in 33.1 innings pitched.
A season ending injury to Tim Hudson combined with the failure of Atlanta to make a trade for a veteran starter before the deadline means that Wood is going to be counted on to hold down a spot in the rotation for the remainder of the season.
The young southpaw has advanced quickly through the Braves farm system after being taken in the 2nd Round of the 2012 June Amateur Draft out of the University of Georgia with the 85th overall pick. Wood has appeared in only 24 games in the Minors, all starts, and has a 9-5 mark with an ERA of 1.73. He averaged a strikeout an inning (114 K’s in 114.2 innings pitched) on his way to Atlanta, and has continued to ring up strikeouts at the same pace since his debut with Atlanta on May 30 against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Wood began the season rated as the Braves’ No. 6 prospect by MLB.com, and circumstances have put him in position to prove at a young age that he is ready to be a regular in the rotation. Hudson said of Wood back in April that he was “legit” and that “his stuff is nasty”, while Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez was impressed with what he saw during the spring, saying “I like the kid more and more I see him pitch.” The injury to Hudson combined with the Braves 2011 1st Round pick Sean Gilmartin struggling at Gwinnett before going on the DL has cleared a path for Wood that was not foreseen.
As the trade deadline approaches with no announcement from Atlanta about a deal for a starter, it seems that Wood is going to be counted on to hold down one of the spots in the starting rotation the rest of the way. The Atlanta rotation now consists of 25-year old Mike Minor, 22-year old Julio Teheran, 27-year old Kris Medlen, Wood, and Brandon Beachy with Paul Maholm’s role seemingly in the pen. Beachy’s consistency as he continues to recover from “Tommy John” surgery will be erratic, meaning that Minor and Teheran must continue to perform at the level they have to this point.
It’s a very young rotation with limited pennant chase experience, and virtually no postseason experience. The good news is that the young guns have the ability to get the job done and, while short of experience on the mound, will have veteran leadership in the form of Hudson on the bench.
It is also comforting that Atlanta has a 10-game lead going into August.
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