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- Kyle Hendricks was effusive in his praise of Kyle Schwarber as a catcher last night, calling him “awesome” and “pretty damn good” (Cubs.com, CSN). Like I wrote earlier this morning, I thought Schwarber did look acceptable behind the plate for Hendricks, though the receiving skills trailed off a bit when the relievers came in, and the stuff/velocity got a little harder to handle. It was a reminder of just how hard catching at the big league level is, and how much harder than AA or AAA it’s going to be for a 22-year-old with extremely limited high-level catching experience to do it for the first time in a playoff hunt. Upon reflection this morning, I think it’s worth saying: this young man must be extremely gifted in his arms, eyes, and brain for the Cubs to even try this. It might look ugly at times, but it also might dramatically accelerate his growth behind the plate for next year if he’s got the right kind of makeup (and it seems like he does).
- In those same Cubs.com and CSN articles, you can read more about the plan for Schwarber, which includes the ability to catch most pitchers except Jon Lester (David Ross) and Jake Arrieta (probably a little too nasty just yet), and which does not yet include playing in the outfield on days when he’s not catching. While I understand the desire to get his bat into the lineup as often as possible, this is already a lot to ask of a young player – throw in learning the outfield and switching back and forth on a daily basis? And, you know, still adjusting to hitting at the big league level? You have to be realistic about these things. Eventually, once he’s settled in a little bit, and once it’s getting closer to Miguel Montero’s possible return, then I suspect we might see Schwarber get some time in the outfield.
- As for game-calling ability, which is much harder for outsiders to see, I noticed Schwarber getting some calls from the dugout, and there were probably more pitcher shake-offs than normal. But as long as Schwarber can work with the pitchers and the coaching staff pre-game to get the plan, and as long as the in-game assistance comes when necessary, there shouldn’t be too much reason for concern on that side of things. (I’ll be the first to admit, though, that game planning and pitch sequencing is not something with which I’m intimately familiar, in terms of how players and coaches actually effectuate those things in-game. I’m sure it’s more complicated than it seems.)
- Joe Maddon and Pedro Strop on his tough two outings. I feel like there’s a lot of reasonable shrugging going on – like a “it’s a couple bad outings, but everything is probably fine” kind of thing.
- Agree with Mauricio Rubio here – the Cubs have done a great job using Hendricks at his most effective:
I was wondering why Kyle Hendricks has been so good. His sinke rchange plays a part but this explains a lot as well. pic.twitter.com/rgTY2485cE
— Mauricio Rubio Jr. (@MRubio52) July 18, 2015