Kerry Wood revealed something pretty interesting during a recent interview with David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com, saying that his 20-strikeout game against the Astros on May 6, 1998 on was the first time he felt something in his right elbow.
It all started with that famous final pitch, a wicked swinging strikeout of Derek Bell. Still, the recently-retired right-hander told Kaplan that whatever changed with his elbow that day was “worth it.”
Racking up absurdly high pitch counts as a rookie, Wood went on to make 21 more starts that year before sitting out the final month of the regular season with a sore elbow. He returned in late September to pitch in the NLDS against the Braves, but blew out his elbow the next spring and missed the entire 1999 season following Tommy John surgery. It’s not clear if Wood ever said anything to coaches after initially feeling something in the elbow, but he has said on numerous occasions that he felt it was only a matter of time before it gave out.
While Wood still enjoyed a productive major league career, he didn’t start another game in the major leagues after his age-29 season in 2006. If you are annoyed by your favorite team’s rookie pitcher getting pulled after 90-100 pitches, look no further than Kerry Wood as a cautionary tale.
According to Bill James’ Game Score metric, Wood’s 20-strikeout game ranks No. 1 all-time for a nine-inning game.
The Astros are in agreement with right-hander Justin Verlander on a two-year, $66 million extension, Mark Feinsand of MLB.com was among those to report on Friday. With no money deferred, the $33 million he’ll receive over the next two years will set a record AAV for major-league pitchers; something MLB Network’s Jon Heyman says matters to Verlander, who “cares how his deals affect markets (and fellow players).”
While it’s far from the five-year, $100 million extension teammate Alex Bregman signed with the club on Friday, the deal will give the Astros a bigger window to consider their long-term plans for the ace before he hits free agency again. Prior to Saturday’s agreement, Verlander’s original contract — the hefty seven-year, $180 million arrangement he reached with the Tigers in 2013 — was set to expire at the conclusion of the 2019 season.
It’s difficult to overestimate the value Verlander has provided to the Astros since they acquired him from the Tigers back in 2017. He was named the 2017 ALCS MVP following seven shutout innings in a must-win Game 6 performance and helped the Astros clinch their first franchise World Series title. In 2018, he earned his seventh career All-Star distinction and received consideration for both AL Cy Young and MVP awards after pitching to a 16-9 record in 34 starts with a 2.52 ERA, 1.6 BB/9, 12.2 SO/9 (the product of a career-high 290 strikeouts), and 6.7 fWAR over 214 innings.
The deal has not been confirmed by the team.