CINCINNATI – The Cubs could be on the verge of having a third different pitcher make their Opening Day start in as many seasons, the way Travis Wood has looked this year and how his manager talked about him Monday night.
To be clear, the Cubs aren’t anywhere near deciding who gets the ball seven months from now. But after Wood notched his 22nd quality start in a 2-0 victory over the surging Cincinnati Reds, manager Dale Sveum did everything but use the word “ace” when talking about Wood.
“He’s done one heck of a job all year long – as good as anybody,” Sveum said. “He’s our No. 1 starter. He’s proven it. Even his non-quality starts are like four runs in six innings. It’s been a pretty impressive run.”
Wood (9-11, 3.05) downplayed the praise.
“I think every pitcher tries to pitch like that even if they don’t have the stuff that’s technically ace stuff,” he said. “I appreciate it, but we’re just going to keep rolling.”
If that translates to the first-day honor next spring, he would be the third in three openers (following Ryan Dempster in 2012 and Jeff Samardzija this year) – a first for the Cubs since Jon Lieber in 2000 became the seventh different opening starter in seven years.