PHOENIX — Unlike his two previous springs with the Dodgers, Alex Wood has a secure spot in the starting rotation. And to start the season, he’ll occupy a prime spot in the pecking order.
The Dodgers’ rotation is pretty much set for opening day. There is a chance they might make an adjustment, deciding in what order Kenta Maeda and Rich Hill will start the third and fourth games of the season. But Wood starts second, behind Clayton Kershaw.
“It’s obviously a great honor,” Wood said. “We do things a little bit differently around here where I don’t think we look at it like 1-2-3-4-5. I think we have five guys who all could throw in any spot. To be on a team as good as we are and to throw second behind the greatest pitcher of our generation is pretty cool.”
Wood opened last year in the bullpen but by the end of April was starting regularly. He made his first All-Star team and finished 16-3 with a 2.72 ERA and 151 strikeouts in his 152⅓ innings. He also struggled in the second half and had two stints on the disabled list with SC joint inflammation in his clavicle.
An “epiphany” Wood had in September led Wood to completely ditch his windup. He has pitched exclusively from the stretch this spring, with the idea being that it would help him make any needed mechanical adjustments more quickly.
Wood said he made a tweak in between starts before Monday, improving the direction of the lower half of his body and the landing spot for his right leg. Outside of a few timing issues, things worked swimmingly for Wood on Monday against the A’s, with seven strikeouts in five scoreless frames, allowing just four singles and two walks.
“What I did was 100% easier to correct and feel, the adjustment that I made, by just going from the stretch,” Wood said. “I literally don’t know if would have been able to make the adjustment that I made this week if I was going from the windup.”
In four starts this spring Wood has 16 strikeouts and five walks in 12 innings, and a 2.92 ERA.