Former Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood is making the most of his chance with the New York Yankees in 2010. After a so-so 1st season with the Cleveland Indians in 2009 (3-3, 20 saves, 6 blown saves, 4.25 ERA and 1.38 WHIP), Wood’s performance with the Indians in 2010 was downright awful. Wood appeared in just 23 games for the Tribe, going 1-4 with 8 saves but 3 blown saves. He walked 11 hitters and struck out 18 in 20 innings pitched, paving the way for his hefty 6.30 ERA and 1.60 WHIP.
Because of their own bullpen issues, the New York Yankees made the surprise move to take a shot on Wood at the July 31st trading deadline. And boy has it paid off. Wood made 24 appearances for the Yankees from August 1st on, tossing 26 innings with a 0.69 ERA and 1.23 WHIP. He struck out 31 batters while walking only 18. After his 2nd Yankees appearance in which he gave up 1 earned run, he made 21 straight appearances without allowing a single run (earned or unearned) before he finally gave up a run on the final game of the season against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. He has been just as good in the post-season. He has pitched 6 innings in 6 appearances, giving up just 1 earned run on 5 hits and 3 walks with 7 K’s. In the ALCS against the Rangers, Wood has pitched 4 scoreless innings.
Manager Joe Girardi – who played 2 seasons with Wood with the Chicago Cubs – has been thrilled with having the veteran on his club – “I had caught him so I remember when he had outstanding stuff. But I don’t think anyone ever thinks you’re going to get a reliever that for two months has an ERA under 1.00. Some of the best relievers of all time don’t do that. I mean, I thought he would help us, but I never would have thought he could help us this much.”
Wood has cherished his opportunity, and even with his team down 3-1 in the ALCS against the Rangers, Wood knows better than anyone that anything can happen in a 7-game series (as we all painfully remember when the Cubs blew that 3-1 NLCS lead to the Florida Marlins back in 2004) – “There weren’t any expectations when I came over here. I just came with the attitude that if I was ready and put up enough zeroes, maybe something would happen for me here… You just keep grinding, keep grinding, in the hopes that eventually, something good happens… I was on a team that was up 3-1 and we didn’t get it done, so I know it can happen. And we had a much better team. Obviously, the deeper a series goes, anything can happen.”
Congrats Kerry – we wish you the best of luck and hope you get that World Series Ring — even if it’s with the New York Yankees.