In case you don’t yet recognize him, that’s Cincinnati Reds pitcher Alex Wood in the picture up yonder. It’s officially June 18th, 2019, and there is still not a usable picture of him throwing in a Reds jersey, however, as the balky back that shut him down early in spring training has kept him completely sidelined through the first 43% of the season.
That, of course, puts both Wood and the Reds brass in a bit of a precarious situation, seeing as the southpaw is one of a chorus of current Reds set to be free agents at season’s end. How quickly he can get healthy - and whether that’s as a starter or reliever - will help determine both whether he’s still a Red after the July 31st trade deadline as well as which other pending free agents might get moved because of his health situation. So, it’s certainly a positive thing to hear that he’s ramped up enough to throw live batting practice, which is apparently exactly what he was doing today, per The Athletic’s C. Trent Rosecrans.
Alex Wood is throwing live BP right now. Facing Kyle Farmer, Phillip Ervin and Josh Van Meter.— C. Trent Rosecrans (@ctrent) June 18, 2019
As The Enquirer’s Bobby Nightengale later added, this puts Wood on a course that could see him out on a rehab assignment as early as next week.
Alex Wood is throwing a live batting practice session on the GABP mound. Wood plans to throw another one Saturday, then he could begin a rehab assignment next week. #Reds— Bobby Nightengale (@nightengalejr) June 18, 2019
Again, rehab assignment for Wood remains a very nebulous thing, since the role in which he’s targeting is not yet known. Obviously, it would be much, much quicker to get him ready as a reliever than as a starter, something I looked at closely nearly two months ago when it already seemed like it was nearing the point of being too late to work him back as a starter. Wood has pretty decent experience as a reliever, after all, though that’s obviously not what he’d ideally like to have as his role as he enters the free agent market, which makes this entire thing a delicate situation.
Should the Reds choose to be patient, let Wood get enough work to be ready as a starter, and bring him back right before the trade deadline, there may well be a ready-made opening for him in the rotation - and not due to sending one of the other guys down. A quick perusal of the Top 50 candidates to be dealt by the July 31st trade deadline at MLB Trade Rumors shows Tanner Roark featured prominently at #13, and you could certainly make the case that he should be ranked higher on that list. Roark, of course, is enjoying a bit of a renaissance season and is also slated to be a free agent at season’s end, and also just so happens to be valued by fWAR as the single most valuable pitcher on the Reds staff this season. Cashing in on Roark for a piece potentially more valuable than Tanner Rainey would close the book on a pretty nifty bit of rosterizing by the Reds front office, especially if they could slot a healthy Alex Wood into his rotation spot. Heck, that’s the kind of move the Reds could make and still be focused on winning as many games as possible in the second half of the season.
In other news, FanGraphs’ Ben Clemens looked at the decline of use of sinkers in the game today, something that seems odd given how much more valuable it is to induce them these days given shifting and the penalty of dinger-happy swings on pitches higher up in the zone. It’s an interesting read regardless of context, but one that becomes even more intriguing when you factor in that the Reds have the 5th best groundball percentage among all MLB staffs this year while also throwing sinkers just 0.2% of the time.
Since his call-up on May 3rd, Nick Senzel has hit 11 doubles, the exact same number as Mike Trout in that time. I’m not saying Nick Senzel is gonna be the next Mike Trout, I’m just saying something very targeted and specific so that you say Nick Senzel is gonna be the next Mike Trout. (For the record, that’s the most by any rookie in that span, too.)
In case you missed it, Manny Machado was suspended for a game due to his outburst and conduct with an umpire. The MLB Umpires Association took to social media to bitch about it, and it’s hilarious on a wonderfully inept way.
Over at Redleg Nation, they looked closer into some of the comments made by Tyler Mahle a few days ago after he was pulled early from a game, and it’s an interesting breakdown of some of manager David Bell’s tactics when it comes to bullpen use.
Finally, congrats to Jose Iglesias, who is the new proud papa to a baby girl.