Dean Smith, somewhat infamously, was the only man who could hold Michael Jordan under 20 points. And maybe the Atlanta Braves are the only organization that can keep Alex Wood from blossoming into a star.
Most clubs would kill to have a dazzling lefty like Wood in the rotation, but for now, Atlanta has no starting spot for Wood. The announcement came down Friday: the Braves plan to use a five-man group of Julio Teheran, Mike Minor, Ervin Santana, Aaron Harang, and Gavin Floyd. Wood shifts to the bullpen.
The move isn't completely out of left field: the Braves probably don't want to overwork Wood in his age 23 season. The bullpen could also use an impact lefty.
The odds are good we'll see Wood back as a starter. It's never easy for five starting pitchers to remain healthy over an extended period, and someone could always slump and force a move. Harang was a mess in Seattle last year (5.76/1.34), remember – and he's 36 years old. Floyd was an innings-eater during his Chicago days, but he rarely had acceptable ratios (career: 4.46/1.34).
Obviously formats differ, and there will be some situations where you can't wait on Wood. But I'm holding him anywhere I have him; heck, I might even try to use this news to trade for him. His talent is too good to be blocked forever. I expect he'll find a way back to prominence this season.
In other words, I'm screaming "reco" here. Back to the boiler room.
While we have starting pitchers on the mind, let's mention one other piece of news. The A's made a pitching change of their own Friday, sending Dan Straily to the minors and Drew Pomeranz to the rotation.
Straily's 4.93 ERA pushed the move – despite a strong strikeout rate, he's been plagued by walks (15) and homers (nine) over his 38.1 innings. And maybe the timing is right for Pomeranz to take off. He was a top prospect in the Cleveland organization (fifth overall pick in 2010, big part of the Ubaldo Jimenez trade), but four messy years in the Colorado air took the bloom off the rose.
Pomeranz has been effective in 18.2 Bay Area innings this year, including one spot start: 18.2 IP, 13 H, 3 R, 6 BB, 16 K. He's still just 25. Head-to-head players will appreciate the dual-eligibility tag. Pomeranz is unowned in 98 percent of Yahoo leagues. Start kicking, kickers.