The Braves have expressed the desire to limit left-hander Alex Wood to an inning count around 175 as the 23-year-old goes through his first full Major League season. But given the way the southpaw has pitched in 2014, it might hurt Atlanta to follow through with that plan.
Wood will toe the rubber opposite right-hander Dillon Gee on Tuesday night at Citi Field.
As the Braves continue their fight for one of the National League's two Wild Card spots, Wood has developed into the club's second-best starter. In his 18 starts this season, Wood owns a 2.83 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP.
And with a record of only 9-9, Wood -- who also pitched as a reliever this season -- only adds credence to the diminishing statistical value of a pitcher's win-loss mark.
"He's been nails," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said on Thursday. "I don't believe in wins and losses for a pitcher. He's been terrific. I talked to him a little bit today, and he goes, 'Skipper, I want the ball in the eighth inning. I want to be that elite-type pitcher in the Major Leagues.' And I think it was a good learning experience for him."
Gonzalez was referring to Wood's turn against the Nationals on Aug. 10, during which he gave up one earned run and struck out a career-high 12 in 7 1/3 innings. Wood threw a career-high 124 pitches in the victory.
"We pushed him to 124 pitches, but he wants that; he's got that mentality to be a top-tier pitcher in the Major Leagues, and to be in that category, you've got to go out and go eight innings, go complete games," Gonzalez said. "And he wants to do it. And that's more than half the battle, for me."
Despite posting a 1.89 ERA in his past five starts, Wood was disappointed after allowing two earned runs in seven-plus frames against the Pirates on Wednesday. With a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the eighth, he walked Gaby Sanchez and surrendered a ground-rule double to Travis Snider before being lifted. The Pirates would eventually win the game, 3-2.
"If you want to go deep in games and be one of the best in the league, that can't happen in the eighth inning," Wood said. "It's inexcusable and it stinks. ... One minute you're carving them up, going along nice, and then all of the sudden, you go back out there for the eighth and you hang a breaking ball and it's a whole new ballgame. Those things can't happen at this level."
Mets: Gee aiming to emerge from rough patch
Gee has surrendered four earned runs in back-to-back outings and five of his past seven starts. The stretch has upped his ERA from 2.56 to 3.84.
Gee went down in May with a right lat strain that sidelined him for more than two months before returning on July 9 to limit the Braves to one earned run in seven innings of work at Citi Field. But he simply has not been the same since.
"It's been very frustrating," Gee said following his most recent outing, a loss to the A's. "But all you can do is try to take the positives from each outing and keep working hard, and try to turn it around."
Braves: Everyday Freddie
Freddie Freeman leads all Major Leaguers with 1,182 innings played in the field this season, missing only two of Atlanta's 1,184. Freeman and San Francisco's Hunter Pence are the only two players in the NL to start all of their team's games in 2014.
Freeman has never played more than 157 games in a season and appeared in 147 contests in each of the past two seasons. He is on pace to surpass those numbers.
• Braves catcher Evan Gattis hit his 20th home run on Sunday, giving him back-to-back 20-homer seasons to begin his Major League career.
• Mets center fielder Juan Lagares entered Sunday leading all Major Leaguers with a 3.3 defensive WAR this season.
• Four of Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson's 16 home runs this season are against the Braves.
Joe Morgan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.