Robertson's Return, Morel's Arm, Martin's Dominance, Fergie's Statue, Cubs on PitchCom, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Robertson’s Return, Morel’s Arm, Martin’s Dominance, Fergie’s Statue, Cubs on PitchCom, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

A lot of kind folks have told me that a root canal is no big deal, and I accept their experience and wisdom. But I’m still pretty agitated about mine this afternoon. Dreading it. Yes, it’ll probably be fine, but I just can’t help it. I’m so unsettled, and probably will be until after the whole process (first the root canal, then a temporary crown later on, then a permanent crown – apparently!) has been finished for weeks and months, and I know that there isn’t going to be some weird problem popping up as soon as I try to bite a sandwich.

•   Of course I wish it came in a win, but outside of that, I was glad to see David Robertson’s return last night come in a game where he wouldn’t necessarily be solely responsible for blowing it if he wasn’t quite as sharp as usual coming off the long absence. He, like the rest of the bullpen before him, was tasked with keeping the Cubs in the game in the top of the 9th, which he did very well. The velocity was actually up – feeling fresh, perhaps – and the curveball looked as sharp as ever. Fair to assume he’s right back in there as the Cubs’ primary closer.

•   I thought this diving play from Christopher Morel offered a nice microcosm on how he can look out there sometimes – wild and sprawling, but quick and strong, and getting the out:

•   Not sure whether Andrelton Simmons would’ve been able to make that play – he was way over toward third because of the shift, so I don’t blame Morel for taking it, obviously – but Morel got it there in plenty of time despite needing an extra second. This throw was an inning earlier, but just to give you a sense of Morel’s arm:

•   Just wait until you see him make a throw from the outfield. It’s just an enormous arm. Electric Factory and all that.

•   Speaking of big arms, this is just textbook good from Willson Contreras, and a quick tag (albeit not Javy quick) from Andrelton Simmons:

•   Haven’t mentioned Chris Martin much, but he’s quietly been excellent for the Cubs so far: 2.84 ERA over 12.2 innings (15 appearances), with a 2.46 FIP, 28.3% K rate, 5.7% BB rate, and an absurd 68.6% groundball rate. I’m not sure if that’s sustainable – it’s the third highest groundball rate in baseball – but he has made some material changes to his pitch mix with the Cubs. He’s throwing more sinkers and cutters, and the average launch angle on both is down this year (i.e., more of those pitches AND more groundballs on those pitches). The cutter, in particular, is way up in usage and is getting a ton more drop than it was previously. The Cubs pitching infrastructure has had a whole lot of success the last few years with improving sinkers and cutters, so … maybe there’s something legit here? (Also: he’s throwing his slider much less, but it, too, has a ton more vertical drop than it has in the past, and is getting a much lower average launch angle.)

•   You’ve no doubt noticed the Cubs’ catchers and pitchers more and more using PitchCom, the electronic system for communicating pitch calls. It’s still not everyone, but this Sun-Times write up gets deep into how most of the Cubs’ pitchers are now using PitchCom at least when runners are on base, and how the Cubs customized the button system to better suit their needs. Overall, it sounds like it’s going really well, and I expect we’ll see something close to league-wide adoption by, say, late next year. It just makes too much sense to go this route, rather than continue to risk stolen signs. Plus, a lot of the Cubs pitchers say they like the improved rhythm it creates.

•   Huge clearance (Cubs and otherwise) at Fanatics today:

•   The Fergie Jenkins statue will officially be unveiled and dedicated tomorrow:

•   Max Scherzer cut off his start early last night when he felt something not so good on a pitch:

•   For his part, Scherzer doesn’t think it’s too bad, but it was a “zing” on his left side, which he hasn’t experienced before (makes you wonder if it’s an oblique):

•   Advertisers still really love baseball broadcasts on Regional Sports Networks:

•   Normal stuff at Miller American Park Family Field at Wrigley North:

•   At least he wasn’t riding a tractor.

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.