Is Travis Wood the ace of the Cubs' pitching staff?
Wood, who was one of the last two pitchers to earn a starting job in the spring, shut down the high-scoring St. Louis Cardinals Tuesday night to lead the Cubs to a 2-1 victory in the opener of a two-game series.
Wood (3-2) out-dueled previously unbeaten Cardinals starter Lance Lynn (5-1), pitching two outs deep into the seventh - pushing his ERA down to 2.28, and into the National League's top 10.
"He's the best starter in baseball pretty much," manager Dale Sveum said of a left-hander still looking for his first full season in the big leagues. "He's got it. He's figured it out. He can do just about anything he wants with the ball right now."
The victory gave the Cubs a chance to split the 10-game homestand with one game left, Wednesday against the Cardinals, after having lost four straight earlier during the stand.
Wood, 26, leads the majors with seven quality starts in as many tries, and is also among the league leaders in opponents batting average and innings pitched. The only run he allowed Tuesday came on Allen Craig's leadoff homer in the second.
Among the best in baseball, as Sveum said?
"That's a strong statement," said Wood, smiling, but stopping short of elaborating.
What seems certain: Wood's going nowhere when Matt Garza returns from the disabled list - presumably in the next two weeks - to rejoin the rotation.
All Wood knows for sure is, "Right now it's feeling awesome. ... Hopefully, I can stay with it as long a possible."
And his confidence?
"It's as high as it can be right now. Got to stay humble though. Got to get back to work and be ready every five days."
As good as Wood was, Lynn's only trouble came in the fourth, when Nate Schierholtz followed Alfonso Soriano's two-out single with a two-run homer to center - the only runners to reach scoring position in seven innings against Lynn.
The Cubs escaped a big two-on, two-out jam in the eighth with Carlos Marmol on the mound, when Yadier Molina mistakenly thought he'd catch Marmol napping and broke from second for third.
Marmol caught him at third easily.
"Molina likes to sneak-steal when nobody's paying attention," Sveum said. "We took advantage of his aggressiveness in that situation."