Alex Wood has split his first two seasons between the Braves’ bullpen and rotation, making 18 starts and 31 relief appearances. And he’s been very good, posting a 3.26 ERA and 140 strikeouts in 138 innings overall.
Which is why today’s move to demote him to Triple-A looks surprising, but Mark Bowman of MLB.com writes that it’s likely being done as part of a plan to stretch the 23-year-old left-hander out to return to Atlanta as a full-time starter.
Wood hasn’t started a game since May 4 and has thrown more than 40 pitches just once during that bullpen-only period, and the Braves decided this was the easiest way to get him ready to throw 90-100 pitches on a regular basis again.
In a corresponding move the Braves activated reliever Jordan Walden from the disabled list, where he spent a month with a strained hamstring.
Phil Hughes was officially designated for assignment by the Twins on Tuesday, the culmination of multiple injury-plagued seasons and poor performance.
Things couldn’t have started out much better for Hughes in Minnesota. The former Yankees hurler joined the Twins on a three-year, $24 million contract in December of 2013 and reeled off a 3.52 ERA over 32 starts during his first season with the club. He set the MLB record (which still stands, by the way) for single season strikeout-to-walk ratio and even received some downballot Cy Young Award consideration. The big year resulted in the two sides ripping up their previous agreement with a new five-year, $58 million deal, but it was all downhill after that.
Hughes took a step back with a 4.40 ERA in 2015 and struggled with a 5.95 ERA over 11 starts and one relief appearance in 2016 before undergoing surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome. He wasn’t any better upon his return last year, putting up a 5.87 ERA in nine starts and five relief appearances. Hughes missed time with a biceps issue and required a thoracic outlet revision surgery in August. He began this year on the disabled list with an oblique injury, only to put up a 6.75 ERA over two starts and five relief appearances before the Twins decided to turn the page this week.
Hughes is still owed the remainder of his $13.2 million salary for this year and another $13.2 million next year. The deal didn’t work out as anyone would have hoped, but unfortunately this is another case of health just not cooperating.