As of three weeks ago Travis Wood was pitching really well for the Cubs, starting 10 games with a 3.05 ERA, but he’s been in a free fall since the All-Star break.
First he allowed eight runs against the Marlins on July 17, then he gave up seven runs against the Cardinals on July 22, and this afternoon he faced St. Louis again while tying a Cubs record by serving up five homers.
Lance Berkman, Yadier Molina, Matt Holliday, Matt Carpenter, and Allen Craig each took Wood deep as he joined Carlos Zambrano in 2011, Ismael Valdez in 2000, Steve Stone in 1974, and Warren Hacker in 1954 as the only Cubs pitchers to surrender five homers.
And in the span of three starts Wood’s ERA has ballooned from 3.05 to 4.98.
On Monday, Cubs catcher Willson Contreras showed he was very confident heading into the 2018 season, saying, “I know that I’m going to be better than [Yadier Molina and Buster Posey].” Contreras explained that his goal is to become “the best catcher in the game for a long time — like it was with Yadier Molina, like it is with Buster Posey.”
Apparently, Contreras ruffled Molina’s feathers as the Cardinals’ veteran backstop took to Instagram to respond. Posting a picture of himself with Buster Posey and Salvador Perez, Molina wrote, “Respeten los rangos NOVATOS!! aqui con los q si han probao que son los duros!!” That loosely translates to “respect the ranks,” referring to Contreras as a novice.
Molina is no stranger to using Instagram to air his grievances. He apparently used the social media app to take a swipe or two at manager Mike Matheny last year.
Of course, Molina seems to be misreading the intent of Contreras. Contreras seems to think highly of Molina, having referred to him as being one of the best catchers in the game — even if it was in the past tense. Molina should know, being someone who also competes at the highest level, that having confidence is an important part of the recipe for success. Perhaps this will make for some interesting games during the season, breathing new life into the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry.