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Dodgers push back Alex Wood's next start; he won't pitch in St. Louis

After giving up seven runs to the Reds on Monday, Alex Wood will not face St. Louis this weekend as the Dodgers are still pondering their starter for Sunday’s series finale against the Cardinals.

The two options are Hyun-Jin Ryu on regular rest or Ross Stripling on short rest. Stripling started Wednesday’s game against the Reds and lasted 3 1/3 innings.

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“It depends on today,” manager Dave Roberts said before Wednesday’s game. “That’s why we’re kind of leaving it open.”

Roberts suggested the decision was related to how Wood matches up with the right-handed hitters in the Cardinals lineup. The Dodgers previously gave Wood extra rest to keep him out of a crucial series with Arizona.

The Dodgers have not announced their rotation for next week’s series at Dodger Stadium against Colorado. Wood could start on Monday. Or the team could skip Wood, who has pitched past the fifth inning only once in his last five outings. Wood owns a 3.17 earned-run average in the second half, but Roberts remains concerned about the consistency of his arsenal.

“He hasn’t been as sharp,” Roberts said. “He was really sharp during that Texas start,” in which Wood pitched seven scoreless innings, “but outside of that, he hasn’t been as sharp as he has been earlier this year.”

Wood’s fastball velocity dipped in the second half of his All-Star campaign in 2017, and the numbers have continued to drop this season. His average fastball clocked at 91.8 mph in 2017, according to FanGraphis. His velocity now sits at 89.9.

In the process, his strikeout rate has dropped. Wood struck out 8.92 batters per nine innings last season. He has struck out 7.97 per nine innings in 2018.

Wood has made 27 starts this season, with only one brief stint on the disabled list. No Dodgers starter has taken the ball more often this season. He made 27 starts in the entirety of 2017.

“With my eyes, obviously when you’re talking about workload, that certainly plays a part in it,” Roberts said. “Talking to him and the training staff, he feels strong. The fact is that it’s not as crisp as it was earlier this year.”

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