Rehabbing Reds left-hander Alex Wood finally looks to be nearing his 2019 major league debut, Mark Sheldon of MLB.com writes. Barring setbacks, Wood – who began a 30-day rehab stint July 6 – figures to join the Reds sometime in the next two weeks.
The 28-year-old Wood, out all season with back spasms, created plenty of optimism during a rehab start Monday with Double-A Chattanooga. It was the fourth minor league start of 2019 for Wood, who threw six innings and 85 pitches of one-run ball. Reds manager David Bell was encouraged afterward, saying: “Excellent reports. He was really good. He felt great. He pitched really well, was really sharp. Everything was positive.”
Bell likely thought he’d be gushing over Wood all season, as the hurler was one of the Reds’ key pickups during the winter. He came aboard in a noteworthy December trade with the Dodgers that also delivered Yasiel Puig, Kyle Farmer and the now-unemployed Matt Kemp to Cincinnati. Wood was then coming off an eminently productive three-plus-year run in LA, with which he put up a 3.46 ERA/3.50 FIP, 8.3 K/9, 2.5 BB/9 and a 52.1 percent groundball rate over 434 2/3 innings.
In light of what Wood accomplished as a Dodger, the Reds were banking on him to help fix what had been a terrible rotation. Even without Wood, though, the Reds’ starting staff has taken enormous steps forward this season. Luis Castillo has turned into a front-line performer, offseason additions Sonny Gray and Tanner Roark have met or exceeded expectations, and Tyler Mahle and Anthony DeSclafani have been fine in complementary roles.
Despite the vast improvement of their rotation, the long-suffering Reds possess the NL’s fourth-worst record (45-53, putting them 6 1/2 back of a playoff spot). Whether the team will sell at the July 31 trade deadline is unknown, but it’s clear the pending free agent Wood won’t be among its trade chips. However, it does appear that Wood will have around two months to showcase himself to Cincy and the rest of the league before a scheduled trip to the open market.