'That was the best I've seen him throw': Stricklin looking for consistency, confidence from Woods after rough regular season
Georgia relief pitcher Jaden Woods had a rough 2022 regular season. After being named to the 2021 SEC All-Freshman Team, he struggled at times during his sophomore campaign.
Despite finishing the regular season with a 4.56 ERA, Woods is currently tied with Bulldogs’ starting pitcher Nolan Crisp for most home runs given up, which is currently at 11. The left-hander has also given up a team’s fourth-most hits (41) and second-most earned runs (26) in 51.0 total innings pitched in his second year on the staff.
Comparatively, Woods posted a 4.58 ERA last season in 53.0 total innings pitched and the rest of his numbers are similar to this year. However, at times throughout this season, he has struggled in certain situations and also costed Georgia in critical situations.
Regardless, the Warner Robins, Ga., native is coming off his best performance of the season in the Bulldogs’ loss to Alabama in the first-round of the SEC Tournament last Tuesday.
Woods provided the Bulldogs with four scoreless innings of work after the Crimson Tide jumped out to a 5-0 lead. He struck out seven Alabama hitters and only walked one while on the mound. Woods also limited the Crimson Tide to just one hit in the 16 batters he faced.
“I thought some of the best stuff that he's had all year long, the breaking ball, he was throwing it more consistently for a strike, and that's the key for Jaden,” Stricklin said about Woods following the loss to Alabama. “The fastball is so explosive, but everybody knows he's going to throw a lot of fastballs. So, when he can throw that breaking ball for a strike, it can keep people off that fastball a little bit. He threw a couple good changeups.”
Woods was able to keep the Crimson Tide off-balance with his different mix of pitches. Last season, he was able to keep opposing hitters guessing with his fastballs and change-ups. Nevertheless, it seems like batters this season have adjusted and adapted to his throwing patterns.
The biggest issue with Woods during the regular season was consistency, which is what he excelled at during his freshman year. So, Georgia is hoping he can find that trait again as it prepares to take on VCU in the opening round of the UNC Regional on Friday night at 7 p.m.
Woods, who is actually the team’s strikeout leader this season with 76, will be tasked at some point during the weekend by providing the Bulldogs’ pitching staff with relief.
He’s got the tools to succeed and despite not pitching in nearly two weeks, is coming off his best performance of the season. Either way, it’s going to be interesting to see how he responds.
“We all know how talented he is, and we've seen flashes of greatness last year,” Stricklin said. “He certainly was really, really good as a freshman All-American. And that was the best I've seen him throw. Hopefully, that can carry over and he can keep going.”