Wood uses mechanical tweak to get on track

April 30th, 2016

LOS ANGELES -- Alex Wood took a new step forward, literally and figuratively, on Friday night against the Padres, and it's a change that he hopes becomes a giant leap for his consistency.

The Dodgers didn't have much to celebrate after a 5-1 loss to San Diego, their fifth straight defeat, but a mechanical adjustment by Wood allowed the lefty to show his best stuff this season.

"When I stride out, my foot off the ground has been fairly higher than it has been in the past," Wood said. "It's something that I thought was the last piece of the puzzle, in terms of my timing and getting my consistency back."

By lowering his foot during his stride, Wood was able to repeat his delivery easier, and that translates to better command. His nine strikeouts on the night were his most since being acquired by the Dodgers last July.

Wood picked up on the mechanical kink during a video session. After confirming it with pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, he began working on it during bullpen sessions before last Sunday's start against Colorado. It took another start before the pitcher finally saw positive results.

"This is the best I've seen him throw," manager Dave Roberts said. "He was down in the zone all night long, and the breaking ball, when it was down, was sharp. The change, sharp. Two-seamer, good. He was making guys really dig that fastball out from under. This was really encouraging to see."

It's a performance that can hopefully end the struggles he's had. In his first four starts this season, Wood registered a 6.00 ERA and 1.76 WHIP. His 5.1 strikeouts per nine innings would have been in the bottom 10 of MLB if he had enough innings to qualify. That mark is now up to a healthier 6.75.

His ERA is also down to 4.82, but the fact that the figure had to come down to there is a signal the southpaw still plenty of work to do. With this new change, he thinks he can.

"It's something that when I saw it, I got really excited about it because I thought it was something that could be really, really helpful for me," Wood said. "It worked tonight, and hopefully it will continue to work."