Schwarber's New (Old) Stance, Lester on Pitch Clocks, Chatwood's Mechanics, and Other Bullets

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Schwarber’s New (Old) Stance, Lester on Pitch Clocks, Chatwood’s Mechanics, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

The BN top prospect process will kick off later today, with new minor league dude Bryan Smith taking the reins. Although I edit the posts in an official capacity, the reality is that – just as it was with Luke – I’m a Cubs fan at heart, which means I just get excited to read about prospects I don’t know much about, and think about their relative talent levels.

Until then, Bullets …

  • Kyle Schwarber has played around with his stance quite a bit already in his young career, and he’s making another change this year – but it’s actually nothing new:

  • Obviously you want a guy to be the best version of himself, and I’m sure the previous changes – which had made Schwarber more upright in his stance, among other things – were well-designed and well-intentioned. But the guy has to be comfortable. So just as you can only do so much to make a free-swinger be a “patient” guy, you can probably only do so much to a guy’s swing mechanics before you’re making things worse. If Schwarber wants to go back to what he was doing in his younger, pre-MLB days, cool by me.
  • I am reminded that there was a time when Schwarber was viewed by some as having a 70-grade hit tool. He was not considered this mere behemoth of raw power – he was a barrel-to-ball, hard-to-whiff, complete hitter type. Or that was the projection, in any case, and he certainly looked the part in his initial year in the minor leagues. We keep hearing – both from him and from the front office – that he wants to be a complete hitter, and has that potential. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a relationship there for the soon-to-be 26-year-old.
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  • All that said, there’s nothing inherently wrong with the tweaks – again, it all depends on the individual. Remember all the iterations of Anthony Rizzo’s stance before he finally settled on what he’s used the last few years? Remember how extreme some of the versions were in the early days:

  • Bonus – looking back at old Kyle Schwarber stances got me to this video, and it made me smile watching it, so I figure you can smile, too:

  • It will shock you to learn that grizzled vet Jon Lester is not an ardent pitch clock (or DH, or openers, or sabermetrics) supporter:

  • There’s nothing in there that bothers me coming from Lester, even if I disagree with – for example – the intent and expected result of the pitch clock (it’s not just about shrinking the length of the game, it does have an impact on perceived pace, etc.). I’m just glad he didn’t drop the “baseball doesn’t have a clock” line, which doesn’t actually get into the substantive discussion (like, for example, there’s already a rule on the books about delivering pitches in a timely manner – Rule 5.07(c) says, “When the bases are unoccupied, the pitcher shall deliver the ball to the batter within 12 seconds after he receives the ball. Each time the pitcher delays the game by violating this rule, the umpire shall call ‘Ball.’ The 12-second timing starts when the pitcher is in possession of the ball and the batter is in the box, alert to the pitcher. The timing stops when the pitcher releases the ball.”).
  • Similarly, whether I agree or not with the substance, I have no problem with Steve Cishek feeling this way heading into a season:

  • You want the players to believe in themselves and their teammates, regardless of whether fans see potential holes they’d like patched.
  • But back to Lester: the far, far more important thing is that he made his Spring debut yesterday, looking and feeling good (Cubs.com). He wants to get back to 200 innings this year, something he used to do annually. The premium velocity is long gone and not coming back, but Lester’s experience and execution are among the reasons not to bet against him being able to outperform his peripherals for a few years yet, even as he hits his mid-30s. Can you count on another season where he posts a 3.32 ERA despite a FIP more than a run higher (and despite sharp drops in his strikeout rate and groundball rate from the year before)? No. But can he be a perfectly solid middle-to-back-of-the-rotation performer even in a loaded rotation? Yup. I think he still can, especially as he continues to evolve his game in the face of physical changes. The best do precisely that as they age, and Lester has been one of the best.
  • Joe Maddon complimented Tyler Chatwood’s debut performance this weekend, featuring mechanical changes (Cubs.com): “Simplified delivery – no question. I liked the way he finished in his delivery. He wasn’t falling all over the place. It looks like he had a really good [direction to the plate]. You always talk about maximum effort. He was not. He was not. He was more smooth in the whole thing.” We’ll just have to let the Spring play out for Chatwood.
  • Although the new Cubs network is coming next year, you are reminded that it’s still a three-network situation this year (NBCS Chicago, ABC-7, WGN-9). And some in-market streaming news on that front:



Author: Brett Taylor

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