Without doing much research, I am not sure any pitcher has ever had a tougher month than Chicago Cubs left handed pitcher Travis Wood. During the month of June, Wood has made five starts, with four of them being against former Cy Young winners. I am not sure if any pitcher in the long history of the game has ever faced four former Cy Young winners in a single year, let alone a single month. Feel free to disprove me on this, because as I said I have not done any research on that particular statistic. Let’s recap those four starts.
On June 3rd, Wood and the Cubs faced Barry Zito and the San Francisco Giants. In his seven innings of work, Wood gave up only three hits and one run in what would be a disappointing 2-0 loss. In that start, he struck out seven batters while only walking two with one hitting one batter. Granted, he could have pitched better since he did not throw a shutout, but you would be kidding yourself if you were to blame him for this loss and try to say he did not pitch well.
On June 14, Wood and the Cubs faced Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers. While he did not pitch nearly as well as he did against Zito, Wood still walked away with a quality start. In his 6.2 innings of work, Wood gave up eight hits and three runs. He also only struck out three men while walking two and also hitting two. He did not have great command at all in this start, but he did pitch well enough to keep his team in the game. Sadly, the Cubs lost 5-3 bringing Wood’s record against the Cy Young starters to 0-2 even though he only gave up four runs in 13.2 innings of work.
On June 19, Wood faced Jake Peavy and the Chicago White Sox. Once again, Wood shined in a start against a very tough starter. In his six innings of work against the White Sox, Wood only gave up four hits and one run. His command was not great as he struck out five men, but he also walked four. The key here is those four walks did not come back to haunt him. This start finally saw Wood record a win, which was his first one of the season. This win also brought his record to 1-2 against the Cy Young pitchers in which he only gave up five runs in 19.2 innings of work. That is a very impressive stretch for a pitcher, made even more impressive considering he was facing Cy Young caliber pitchers.
Tonight, June 25, Wood once again faced a former Cy Young pitcher in Johan Santana and the New York Mets. In his seven innings of work Wood allowed five hits but did not allow a single run. He struck out six and walked only one in this start, showing dominance the whole night. Wood recorded his second win of the season, and brought his record against the Cy Young quartet to 2-2. In these four starts, Wood has pitched 26.2 innings while only allowing five runs in this stretch.
While facing four tough pitchers, Wood kept his team in the game each and every time out against those top of the line starters. I know that baseball is a game of breaks, and you need to play the hand that is dealt to you, but I am not sure any pitcher has ever had the deck stacked against them as much as Wood has seemed to have this month. Whether you love him or hate him, or if you still wish the Cubs never traded away Sean Marshall to get him, you have to admit that Wood has had a very impressive month and has earned some respect from the Cub fans.