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Scouting the Opposing Pitcher: Travis Wood

Wood will present a challenge for the Phillies today.

Travis Wood is a 27-year old southpaw in his fifth Major League season who made his first NL All-Star team last season with the Cubs. He is also the Phillies opposing pitcher today. Phillies fans may remember Wood from his cameo as a reliever in the 2010 NLDS. Wood pitched 3.1 scoreless innings coming in in the second inning of Game 1. We all remember how that one turned out. The Phillies will not likely benefit from a no-hitter today.

Wood made a jump from average to above-average last year on the strength of his cutter. In his second season pitching home games in Wrigley Field, Wood used the cutter to reduce his HR/FB ratio, a must in the Windy City, and his BB%. Wood used his fastball (averaged about 89 MPH last year) and his cutter (86.5 MPH) about 80% of the time last year, with his cutter being his most valuable pitch by far.

Through his delivery, Wood keeps the ball hidden well and there is little variation in his delivery of his fastball versus his change up. Wood comes over the top about 1/2 of the way into his delivery and does not have any noticeable tells that signal that his less used slider (10.3%) or change up (7.8%). Current Phillies have had little success against Wood, hitting a combined .213/.284/.328 with the lone homer coming from Domonic Brown. Incorporating that knowledge with Wood’s career splits (.212/.290/.327 against lefties), Wood will present a challenge for the Phils today.

Opponents last year fared best when waiting on Wood’s off-speed pitches. This, too, will be a challenge: Wood has become such a solid pitcher with his fastball and cutter, opponents will only have an opportunity at an off-speed mistake once every five pitches. The Phillies will likely have to rely heavily on  Marlon Byrd, and Carlos Ruiz if they want to have any chance to win today.

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