After posting a 3.27 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 11 spring innings over 11 games for the Rangers in March, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that the 27-year-old would be pitching out of Texas’ bullpen to begin 2021.
In fact, I even had Wood projected as a potential closer in one of my spring training roster predictions.
Alas, this was not so, as the team surprisingly selected LHP Kolby Allard to be the last man on the roster heading into the season.
As it turns out, though, all three of Hunter Wood, Adolis Garcia and Hyeon-jong Yang have made their way to the big leagues at various points this season, making major contributions along the way.
Garcia’s theatrics have been well-documented, and Hyeon-jong Yang has done admirable fill-in work as a spot starter and long reliever.
But it’s time to show Wood, a spring training non-roster invitee, some love after making an incredible, highlight-reel worthy play during Tuesday’s loss to the Yankees.
Hunter Wood dazzled in his Texas Rangers’ home debut, proving he should’ve been here all along.
Gloves be damned, Wood caught the baseball with his bare hand and made the play!
He would later strike out second baseman Rougned Odor, making his return to Arlington for the first time since being dealt to New York, to put the icing on the cake of a great outing in relief.
In total, Wood pitched 1.2 innings on Tuesday night against the Yankees, striking out two batters and looking like the dominant reliever that he was for the Texas Rangers during spring training.
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Though he struggled in his first outing vs. the Astros last Saturday (allowing a two-run homer to Kyle Tucker), Wood clearly has the stuff to be a successful big league reliever, as evidenced by his most recent appearance.
And while guys like Ian Kennedy and Joely Rodriguez have earned high leverage roles in the Rangers’ bullpen to date, the uncertainty that surrounds Texas’ rotation warrants adding more “sure things” in the bullpen, Wood among them.
Quality bullpen arms can develop into tradeable assets for the team by the July trade deadline, which should only heighten the importance of getting pitchers such as Wood as many reps as possible to showcase his talents to contending teams.
This is all to say that Hunter Wood proved he should’ve made the Rangers’ 26-man roster out of spring training Tuesday night, even though we’ve known that since camp broke at the end of March.
He’s here now, though, so better late than never.