Optimism on Williams, Arrieta's Mechanics, Wick Update, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Optimism on Williams, Arrieta’s Mechanics, Wick Update, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

I think I’ve said this before, but be careful what you get good at. I’m really good at unclogging toilets, so, you know. It’s always my job now.

•   Trevor Williams was 24 and 25 in 2017 and 2018 when he put together back-to-back solid seasons with the Pirates. By ERA and FIP over that period, you would have regarded him as slightly better than average, and you would’ve looked ahead to the possibility that he could be even better than that with some more development. Unfortunately he got knocked around in 2019 (and also faced some bad luck in his results) which was accompanied by an oblique injury (which can throw everything off for a long time), and then the 2020 partial season was a sufficient disaster that he was DFA’d (in advance of a non-tender). You look at that trajectory, and it’s just not hard to think that – particularly with a new organization – he could re-emerge as, at least, a league-average starter in 2021. And that’s a very valuable thing for a guy the Cubs are paying just $2.5 million, and on whom they’d control another year via arbitration if he looks solid again.

•   Williams, 28, made his debut last night, striking out four and allowing four hits over his two innings. In the write-up about his work so far with the Cubs on bringing back his mechanics, Tommy Hottovy notes for Cubs.com that the team really likes his unique combination of a low release point with good extension (sound familiar? Bryan’s been talking about how that seems to be something the Cubs are targeting, and it’s also something unique about Tyson Miller).

•   The Cubs are also having Williams play with his slider grip to see if they can create two distinct versions of the pitch (one that sweeps (a new attempt) and one that drops (his typical)). You can work in the Pitch Lab to design a pitch for a guy, but actually taking it into a game with enough comfort and confidence to throw it with the kind of conviction necessary to make the pitcher work, well, that’s the challenge. Fortunately, Williams already sports a relatively diverse pitch mix (four-seamer, sinker, slider, changeup).

•   Elsewhere in the rotation among the lower-cost, one-year signings, Jake Arrieta won’t debut in a game for a bit, but he’s facing batters in live BP while working on his mechanics. “He’s looking really good,” Hottovy told Cubs.com. “He threw a really good bullpen today. It’s going to take some time. Again, he’s had these habits form over years of trying to deal with [injuries]. Now, it’s retraining it. But he’s in a good place.” Arrieta, 35 tomorrow, has famously challenging mechanics. The upside is that his crossfire delivery makes it extra tough on the batter; the downside is that it takes superb health and fitness to pull it off consistently and with good command. As with Williams, I’m really excited to see how Arrieta looks in a new (old) organization, and how it compares to what he was doing the last few years.

•   A little Rowan Wick update and reaction:

•   I’ve been surprised that the Cubs have held off this long on putting Wick on the 60-day IL, risking losing Duane Underwood, Jr. in the process, but it’s going to be a question each time a 40-man spot is needed. For now, though, that might not come again until someone on a minor league deal makes the team on Opening Day.

•   Kris Bryant remains an outfield option for David Ross when the Cubs want to max out on righties in a given lineup (Cubs.com).

•   Remember when Will Ferrell joined the Cubs for Spring Training:


•   Security locks, books, glassware, and more are your Deals of the Day at Amazon. #ad

•   People seem to be having a lot of fun with this:

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.