Contreras Framing, Underwood Improving, Sammy Smacking, and Other Bullets

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Contreras Framing, Underwood Improving, Sammy Smacking, and Other Bullets

Analysis and Commentary, Chicago Cubs News

The Cubs will try, try again today, opening a new series against the Giants. I’ll be at this one, so say hey!

  • Patrick Mooney writes about Willson Contreras’s framing/receiving, and to what extent it’s an issue for the Cubs. It’s a good read on the subject, pointing out metrics that probably won’t surprise you (Contreras currently rates as among the worst framers in baseball), but also hearing from Joe Maddon that he’s “not a big overall fan of [framing] as being like the difference between a good and a bad catcher.” There’s more on the subject at the Tribune. (One thing to note: Maddon mentions the individual strike zones and proclivities of umpires as impacting these things, but as I understand it, umpires (and pitchers) are accounted for in the framing metrics.)
  • There’s no doubt that Contreras, with his bat and arm, is still an incredibly valuable catcher. And there’s also no doubt that framing/receiving wild, high-velocity, serious-movement pitchers like Tyler Chatwood and Yu Darvish (who come in for mentions) is much more difficult than framing Jon Lester or Kyle Hendricks or Jose Quintana. But the reality is, this remains something that impacts the pitchers, and impacts the the Cubs’ performance overall. Keep working on it.
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
  • High praise for Cubs pitching prospect Duane Underwood throughout:

  • Because of the ups and downs in his long road to AAA, it’s been easy to lose sight of the fact that Underwood was a second round pick who flashed an incredible fastball in the low minors early in his career. He’s still only 23, and he’s currently flashing the best walk rate (5.4%) of his career, while also seeing his strikeout rate bump up to a career-high level (21.0%). Even though he has struggled recently, I think it’s justifiable that Adbert Alzolay has received most of the “ooh, he could force his way into the rotation” attention, but Underwood is back on the radar as a legit pitching prospect for the Cubs.
  • Veteran catcher Chris Gimenez came in for some praise there, too, in his work with Underwood (and presumably the other young pitchers).
  • Anthony Rizzo’s off-day:

  • Ah, that second pitch may as well have been on a tee:

  • The Cubs have announced a Pride Day on June 10:

  • A miscellaneous note from an interview at The Athletic with Trevor Bauer: he was talking about how he clashed with Gerrit Cole at UCLA because “he told me that I had no future in baseball and he insulted my work ethic as a freshman,” and then Bauer said that when he was high school teammates with Mike Montgomery, the now-Cubs pitcher said “the same thing.” Who knew. But it’s interesting that if multiple teammates with pro-caliber talent are telling you something in your younger days, it’s possible that there was a reason for that.
  • Heads up, it’s a 25% off all orders day at MLB Shop! Get on it:


Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.