The 2020 season for Alex Wood went nowhere near how he planned it, but the left-hander in his return to Los Angeles still ended up pitching critical innings for the Dodgers to complete their championship quest.
Wood pitched for the Dodgers in parts of four seasons, including both World Series trips in 2017-18, then was traded away to the Reds for the 2019 season. He signed a one-year free agent deal to return to the Dodgers for 2020, with incentives that suggested Wood knew he could play multiple roles.
$2.5 million of Wood’s incentives were based on innings, starting at 110 innings, which would have rewarded him for starting. But the remaining $3.5 million in bonuses weren’t bases on starts, but rather appearances in which he recorded 10 or more outs. The pandemic wiped out nearly two-thirds of the season, but even then none of Wood’s appearances this year lasted that long anyway. Best laid plans, and all that.
But before we get into Wood’s season, he was also quite prescient during spring training. Several Dodgers were outspoken after MLB’s punishment (or lack thereof) for the Astros came down, including Wood’s accurate prediction:
“Somebody will take it into their own hands, and they’ll get suspended more games than any of those guys got for the biggest cheating scandal in 100 years,” Wood said.
Just ask Joe Kelly, who was suspended five games for throwing at the Astros.
Early in spring training, the Dodgers set their starting rotation, which included Wood in the No. 5 spot. He remained in the rotation once the season actually started, in late July, though was knocked out of his first start on July 25, allowing three runs in three innings.
That ended up being his longest outing of the season, mostly because Wood was hurt. Shoulder inflammation sidelined him for 32 games on the injured list, more than half the season. By the time Wood was ready to return, Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin established themselves as starters. Wood was both the odd man out but also not fully stretched out enough to start, so he was used in relief the rest of the way.
Wood was used in some reasonable leverage situations down the stretch, but posted a 5.59 ERA in eight relief appearances in September. He was left off the rosters for both the wild card series and NLDS.
He was active for the NLCS, though his first three postseason appearances were mostly low leverage, entering games down six runs, ahead by 14, and down three.
But that changed in Game 6 of the World Series, when he was brought in to keep the Dodgers to within a run in the third inning. Wood was excellent in two innings, and pitched so well that, even after three months of sporadic activity, it was fair to question whether Wood was pulled too early. It was a perfect high note on which to end his season, and he earned a ring out of it.
Stats: 6.39 ERA, 5.01 FIP, 15 K, 12⅔ IP
Salary: $4 million
Game of the year
Wood was part of the stellar six relievers who shut the Rays down for the final 22 outs of the Dodgers’ clinching World Series win in Game 6. Wood knifed through all six hitters he faced, striking out three in his two perfect innings, tying his longest outing in the previous three months.
Wood is a free agent.