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Expect Travis Wood to surface from Triple-A Iowa to replace the demoted Chris Volstad in the Chicago Cubs' rotation. The righty lost his spot because he's still too darn hittable, despite tempering the home-run allowance issues that plagued him last year. FIP cases don't always succeed, kids. NL-only players can tuck him away but shouldn't feel loyal if a bigger need for his roster spot arises.
Wood, meanwhile, wasn't exactly pristine at Iowa (4.57 ERA in seven starts, 41 1/3 innings), but he fanned 39 in that span while walking just 11 - not bad. But will that translate when he faces major leaguers? Wood has been a fly-ball pitcher throughout his career, and the five he allowed on Iowa continued that trend.
In 2011 his big-league K/9 dropped to 6.45 from 7.54 in 2010. He's not overpowering, so he relies on deception. He came up to start May 6 and had a decent affair. In that start, more than one-third of his pitches were cutters. Will increasing his use of that offering help him improve? Single-universe poachers can pay for a low-commitment trial that he can recapture his 2010 magic.
Casey Coleman would probably be next in line if Wood's or another placement opens up. He was summoned from Iowa a few days ago and has been working in the 'pen. Like Wood, Coleman is a painter, not a punisher, and his K/9 has been a bit deceptive. Still, his pitch selection has produced close to the league average in empty hacks forced, and his two-seamer could be handy to produce weaker contact anyway. He's a deep NL tuckaway.
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum competes in Tout Wars and LABR and has won several industry leagues in both baseball and football.
During baseball and football season, hear him every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore. On Thursdays, he visits 106.1 FM WMTI in New Orleans and Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, where he often crashes other shows, as well.
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