With Travis Wood now operating out of the bullpen, it was all but official that fully-recovered lefty Tsuyoshi Wada would be taking Wood’s place in the rotation.
Now it’s actually official.
Today, Joe Maddon announced (Cubs.com) that Wada would start on Wednesday in San Diego, taking the rotation spot between Jason Hammel and Kyle Hendricks, previously occupied by Wood.
Don’t expect Wada to be an enormous upgrade immediately, but he can be a very good 4th/5th starter. At AAA Iowa this year, Wada, 34, has posted a 2.86 ERA over 6 starts and 34.2 innings. He’s struck out 29 and walked 10, representing a decrease in his AAA strikeout rate from last year and a slight increase in his walk rate. Given the small sample, though, you needn’t worry too much about that.
Had he not been injured in Spring Training (groin), Wada would have challenged for a rotation spot right out of the gate. In 69.1 big league innings last year, Wada posted a 3.25 ERA, a 3.75 FIP, a 3.96 xFIP, a 19.7% K rate and a 6.6% BB rate. Although he struggled the third time through the order (where have you heard that before?), Wada was a solid back-of-the-rotation starter for the Cubs in the second half.
Even if Wada is a lateral move from Wood in the rotation, it’s plausible that the exercise could be a net benefit if Wood takes well to the bullpen.