Depending on how you watch a baseball game these days, you may or may not be consuming instant reaction while you watch a baseball game. Like most people, at least I think like most people, I tend to peruse Twitter while watching games and the instant success of recent young prospects has had an unfortunate effect for the expectations that we bestow on the uber-prospects that come to the Show these days. The most recent of which is that of Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant.
Agonizing over a title is probably one of the benefits of having an editor. I’ve never had one so I wouldn’t know, but I digress. While I don’t plan on writing all about the Cubs here, even though they are the team I follow the closest, my first actual post happens to be on a Chicago Cub. My first endeavor back into baseball writing happened to be Travis Wood about a year ago and I’m coming back to him today.
This particular post will explore what happens when a pitcher loses his best pitch (hint: very bad things), and more specifically, when a pitcher with a thin margin for error loses his best pitch.
There’s never going to be a point in time when Travis Wood, or any soft tossing lefty that primarily relies on weak contact, is going to be the best pitcher on a staff for a competitive team. In 2013 Travis Wood was the best pitcher on the Cubs and it was due in large part because he had worked his cutter into his arsenal the season prior and because the Cubs were downright terrible. In 2013 his usage of that pitch was high, his velocity was consistently in the high 80s and his effectiveness with that pitch was strong based on outcomes.
In 2014, everything came crashing down and it all starts with that cutter.