If you are a huge nerd and have been watching for it, you’ve noticed that the Chicago Cubs are not among the teams using the PitchCom system quite yet. (SEE UPDATE BELOW.)
The electronic system for calling pitches allows the catcher to press a button on his wrist to call a pitch, which is relayed to the pitcher through a listening device in his cap. The system is much faster than the hand signal approach with runners on base, eliminates the risk of cross-ups, and also eliminates the possibility of sign-stealing. In short: every team should be using it as soon as practicable.
So why aren’t the Cubs yet? NBC Sports Chicago spoke with pitching coach Tommy Hottovy, and he explained that the Cubs are working with it and are “close” to deploying in real games. But with the abbreviated Spring Training and this being an entirely new system, the pitchers and catchers didn’t want to rush things. Moreover, not every pitcher-catcher combo is comfortable with the system, so it’s possible we won’t see it used for everyone, even when it starts getting implemented in games.
To reiterate, though, once you DO have comfort with it, there’s no downside. Even if the system malfunctions or whatever, you go back to hand signs for the time being. And when it does work, you are better able to move at your preferred pace, without signal cross-ups, and without the opponent having a chance to steal signs. It’s win-win-win.
Hopefully we’ll see it out there soon for the Cubs.
UPDATE: Sure enough, soon after Hottovy said they hadn’t used it yet, the Cubs did give PitchCom a spin in a game this weekend and then again last night:
— Cubs Talk (@NBCSCubs) April 27, 2022
Contreras’s main concerns are just making sure the pitcher can actually hear the call when the crowd gets loud, and then getting enough comfort and familiarity with the system that it goes smoothly with all pitchers. Trying it out in real games seems like the right step in that direction, and I’m really happy to hear it. Remember, the long-term outcome here is a system that makes stealing your signs impossible, makes cross-ups virtually impossible, and will keep things moving at the pace the catcher and the pitcher want.