Owners of Alex Wood in long term leagues will have some type of dilemma on their hands entering next year. There are so many types of keeper leagues that it is difficult to write specifically toward any type of league set up, but generally I notice keeper leagues allow free agent pick ups to be kept in round (x).
In keeper leagues, Alex Wood is shaping up to be a solid bet. The one concern being a potential move to the bullpen that many suggest is possible given his awkward delivery. As an avid Braves watcher, his delivery certainly is not of the “standard” variety. He drops extremely low but when his plant foot hits he has a relatively standard motion. It is getting to that point that is odd and that has many concerned with whether he can sustain a solid level of performance without injury over the course of the year or be forced to move to a full time relief role.
I am on the positive end of the Wood spectrum. For my money, he was the team’s top midseason prospect and is currently the best starter on the staff, yes better than Mike Minor or Julio Teheran. Minor is a quality keeper target in his own right due to the lack of love he received on draft day with a relatively lackluster ERA in 2012, and Teheran is a quality keeper as well due to his late round draft tender in most leagues. Wood to me is the best potential keeper of them all, due to his strikeout potential and the fact that he has straight up dominated every level he has been at as a professional.
Yes it has only been a full year and a month, essentially, since his professional debut, but the domination he has put forth at every single level has me more-or-less sold that he is going to be a quality starter for a long time. It takes some optimism that he can hold up as much as the average starter does in terms of injuries, and that the team would opt to keep him in the rotation if he does get injury, which seemed to be the only knock on him in terms of prospect rankings aside from lack of a great breaking ball.
The latter has changed this season with the addition of a spike curveball, and he has shown to be able to neutralize lefties and righties alike – with a .240 and .259 wOBA against them respectively. The three pitch arsenal and effectiveness he has shown this season has likely locked him up a rotation spot for next season, and the Braves are expected to lose Paul Maholm and Tim Hudson as well which leaves some spots open behind Julio Teheran and Mike Minor. Add in the fact that Brandon Beachy is currently on his way to talk to James Andrews today about his elbow and Wood has a very high chance of starting next year in the rotation, which is great for his fantasy value.
I especially like Wood in dynasty formats, which I own him in. One of the main reasons is that even if he eventually does move to the bullpen, which would probably be either late next year or after next season if he ever does, is that Craig Kimbrel is about to get really really expensive and the Braves have been anything but spenders in the bullpen under Frank Wren. The team consistently builds great bullpens on the cheap, and although Kimbrel is as dominant as we have seen, I do not know that the Braves would decide to pay a reliever as much as Kimbrel will command. That would leave an opening in the closing spot, one that Wood would be able to fall back on and fill in if he were to be forced into a relief pitcher role. The Braves do have another prospect who would fit into that mold as well in J.R. Graham, who has spent much of this season on the mend, but if Wood were forced into the bullpen I could certainly see him being a quality closer for a number of years.
To me, Wood’s upside is a top end starter and his downside is a quality late-inning reliever. Non saves relievers are not too valuable in dynasty formats, but in due time he could get a shot at closing if he were to be removed from the rotation. At this point I would say it is more likely that he is a cog in the middle to top of the Braves rotation for the next few years, and while pitchers are not always the most valuable fantasy assets as there are several good ones, Wood looks like a solid guy to hold onto in long term leagues.