The Rundown: Chatwood Likes Changeup, Reasons Behind Cubs’ Game of Contract Chicken, Top Albums of the 90’s
Tyler Chatwood is doing everything he can maintain the lead on the fifth starting spot he was appointed to on an interim basis at the start of spring training. He was on his game Tuesday afternoon in Scottsdale, working 3.2 scoreless innings with four strikeouts and no walks to bring his spring ERA to 1.86 with an 11/2 K:BB ratio. And he did it in part by getting away from the power game David Ross was so complimentary of the other day.
Hunter Pence fell victim to Chatwood’s filth on two separate occasions, the second of which game on a changeup that rode down and in and made the former Wet Bandit look more awkward than usual. You don’t often see pitchers throwing changeups to like-handed hitters, mainly because the pitch’s typical gloveside tail carries it right into the barrel, but those who can manipulate it well see results like Chatwood got against Pence.
“I threw a right-on-right changeup for that last strikeout,” Chatwood told reporters after his outing. “A really good pitch that I don’t throw a lot. It’s a good sign.”
Yeah, I agree wholeheartedly about that changeup being a good sign. Not that he needed much help against righties after holding them to .580 OPS last season, but the pitch really didn’t enough swings — ~41.5% O-swing, ~55.5% swing — to truly be a consistent weapon. Being able to throw it for whiffs against batters from both sides will help him as a starter by offsetting some of the velocity he’s likely to lose to longer outings.
“I think I want to go out there and mix it up more,” Chatwood explained. “It makes my fastball play harder.”
Cubs News & Notes
- Patrick Mooney has an solid piece in The Athletic about the reasons behind the Cubs’ overall DGAF attitude. It provides a little color to some of the organization’s decisions and (in)actions over the last few months and beyond.
- One interesting note in Mooney’s piece is that hitters are more willing to play out their rookie deals because their injury risk is much lower than pitchers. Pretty obvious when you think about it, but the Cubs are constructed in such a way that they’ve got a lot of those hitters nearing free agency at the same time.
- There’s also the matter of having players represented by big agencies vs. smaller outfits, the latter of which might be more amenable to working out club-friendly deals.
- The Cubs reduced their spring roster to 44 yesterday, with Adbert Alzolay standing out as the biggest move. He’ll be back at some point in the regular season, but the Cubs likely want to keep him stretched out rather than getting irregular bullpen work.
- Rowan Wick finally pitched a scoreless inning Tuesday afternoon, but it wasn’t very clean. The righty gave up a leadoff double and later walked a batter, but he got the job done in the end.
- Yu Darvish is ranked No. 8 on MLB.com’s “draft” ranking of Cy Young candidates.
- If all goes according to plan, CI will be conducting an interview with a pitcher in contention for a rotation spot this season. Look for that this weekend, provided the timing is right.
Other MLB(ish) Notes
- Druw Jones, son of Andruw Jones, is already considered one of the best prep players in the country despite being just a 16-year-old sophomore. He’s committed to play at Vanderbilt after graduating high school in 2022, but his bat-flipping skills are already at an MLB level.
- Recent elected Hall of Famer Larry Walker will serve as an honorary goalie for the Colorado Avalanche.
- MLB is exploring ways to deliver signs via some form(s) of technology. That idea has been around for a while now and it’s hard to say whether any realistic traction will result from the latest rounds of talks, but CI discussed a wearable communication device called K-Band that could also be used to relay defensive positioning.
- In a tangent drawn from to Cubs bullets above, spring training can be a rough time for prospects. They don’t get paid outside of the regular season, so this time is like an unpaid internship. What’s more, the lower-profile guys can find themselves without representation as their agents or agencies just ghost them. That’s often the case with larger agencies that bail when they see a client’s earning potential dropping off.
- This is really just a continuation, but things get messy when bullets are too long. It can cause a stir when smaller agencies agree to smaller deals, but loyalty and trust matter to a lot of these players as well. International players and college seniors who were forced into below-slot bonuses may often want to repay the faith in agencies that serve more as families than cash vampires.
- In the end, it’s all about acting in the best interest of the player. I certainly don’t have all kinds of industry connections in that regard, but I have worked with a few different agencies to set up interviews and whatnot. One agent in particular has actually become something of a friend; I can guarantee you he’s looking out for his players because the first thing I get back in a response text is a question about how my daughter and family are doing.
They Said It
Part of the game is the cat and mouse. Can you crack somebody else’s signs? That’s part of the game. And I love that part of the game – and seeing if you can do it, if you can see what they’re thinking. Do you have a next-level set of signs, or do you not? And how do you work around that?
— Max Scherzer
I’m down. I really don’t care what it is, as long as it’s a pretty foolproof plan to have nobody stealing my signs. Anything is fine with me.
— Tyler Glasnow
The goal here is to win. A lot of them — especially those two guys we’re talking about at the top of the order — have been a part of something special and they understand they want to be a part of that again. So they’re committed to that, first and foremost, which is a powerful thing. When you’re sitting in my seat, that sends a great message throughout the locker room.
— David Ross
Wednesday Walk Up Music
In a break from any theme used in this section in the past, I figured I’d cop out and share my tweet from last night naming the top nine albums of the 90’s. It’s a difficult task, to be sure, and one that left me upset about some of the options I’d left off. This roster skews heavily toward hip-hop and debut albums, but it’s essentially the soundtrack of my high school and college days.
Wu-Tang Clan – Enter the Wu-Tang
Dr. Dre – The Chronic
Eminem – The Slim Shady LP
Nirvana – Nevermind
Fugees – The Score
Tom Petty – Wildflowers
Sublime – Sublime
Snoop Dogg – Doggystyle
Tupac – All Eyez on Me https://t.co/BDsQIvpr72
— Evan Altman (@DEvanAltman) March 11, 2020