WASHINGTON D.C. -- The Giants' rotation early on has been about extremes.
Carlos Rodón has been as sharp as anybody in baseball and looks like a legitimate co-ace alongside Logan Webb, but the Giants this week also put two starters on the Injured List, first Alex Cobb and then Anthony DeSclafani.
Through all that, Alex Wood has flown somewhat under the radar, but he shouldn't at this point. Coming off a good year, and armed with a two-year deal, Wood has gotten off to one of the best starts of his career. He threw five more strong innings Saturday in a 5-2 win over the Washington Nationals and has a 2.51 ERA through three starts.
The numbers are positive. So, too, is Wood's own evaluation.
"I'm throwing the ball really well right now," Wood said. "I feel like I'm throwing the ball maybe as good as I have in my career. I'm commanding both sides of the plate, up and down, in and out, I've been striking my changeup a lot. I feel really good. I'll just try to keep it rolling."
Wood allowed two runs Saturday, both coming after a very lengthy top of the fifth inning. He righted the ship quickly, freezing Juan Soto with a slider at the bottom of the zone to end the fifth and strand a runner. It was one of five strikeouts on the day for Wood, who has 16 of them through his first 14 1/3 innings.
Wood relied Saturday on a fastball that sat at 93 mph and a slider that got 17 strikes on 21 pitches. He also mixed in his changeup often, and he said that pitch has given him another weapon early on. Wood has been particularly effective glove-side in his Giants career, but right now he's dotting just about every part of the strike zone.
"If I feel confident commanding both sides of the plate, I feel like I've got a good shot to win every time out," he said.
There has been only one issue though Wood's good start to the season. He has thrown five innings twice and was held to 4 1/3 in his first start of the year. The staff is being extremely cautious with the starters early on, and Wood was pulled after just 77 pitches Saturday.
Manager Gabe Kapler had a rested bullpen and got four more scoreless innings out of the group that leads the Majors in ERA right now. That didn't make the short hook any easier to swallow for Wood, but Kapler knew that.
"He's going to fight for the baseball all the time," he said, smiling. "He's not the easiest dude to take the ball away from him. He might be a little bit mad at me today for taking the ball away from him -- that's okay. The job is to put him in the best position to succeed and also to put the team in the best position to succeed."
Kapler said there will be plenty of chances for Wood to get into the sixth, seventh and eighth later this season, and a few minutes later, Wood confirmed his manager's suspicions. Asked if he was a little mad to be pulled after five, Wood smiled.
"Uhh, yeah," he said. "Yeah, I wanted to stay in."
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If he keeps pitching this way, those games will come soon enough. On Saturday, Wood left the mound feeling he had more in the tank, but he was fine with how it all turned out.
"That's not the way it went today, but I'm glad we won," he said. "I'm glad we got a series win. Now we go for a sweep tomorrow with Webby on the mound."