With a bullpen whose zenith so far this year has been mediocrity, why do we have our greatest asset wrapped up in cotton wool?
Kerry Wood has appeared in 26 games so far this season, pitching 23.1 innings. Now, whilst he's not yet been the monster we hoped we'd signed in the off-season and it's not like the starting rotation, or his colleagues has given him many leads to defend, he's our best arm in the 'pen and we seem to be reluctant to use him. And when he does pitch, we're never letting him stay out there for longer than an inning. Now I know we shouldn't be riding him to his death a la Dusty Baker, but surely letting him go a couple of innings every now and again wouldn't be disastrous?
In '07 and '08 with the Cubs, Wood pitched 2 innings, on average, at least once a month. The Cubs were contending both years, so there were going to be more save situations for him to be involved in and more high leverage situations where it justified giving him the ball, but why limit your best arm to such a specific situation?
I'd like to see us getting him out there, regardless of whether he's getting the save, or just keeping us in the game. It's no good saving your best bullpen arm for the final inning when the game's being decided by the flotsam and jetsam currently passing as a bullpen at the moment.
Ironically, the one time we've done this lately, on Wednesday night against the Brewers (Brewers vs Indians recap), Wood pitched the 10th and kept the Tribe in it, only for Aquino to give up the winning run. Why couldn't Wood have pitched a second inning? He'd only thrown 13 pitches.
I'm sure there are some good reasons why we're handling him this way and in the train-wreck that is our season it's not like changing the way we use Wood over the course of the year is going to turn things around on its own, but it's vexing me.