Spring Training Miscellany: Why Not a Sweeper for Everyone? Also Morel, Hoerner, Burdi, Live BP, Light-Hearted Fun, More

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Spring Training Miscellany: Why Not a Sweeper for Everyone? Also Morel, Hoerner, Burdi, Live BP, Light-Hearted Fun, More

Chicago Cubs

Just three days to go before the first Spring Training game of the year for the Cubs …

  • I appreciate Sahadev Sharma digging in further on the sweeper, since it seems like it’s *THE* talking point on the pitching side this spring. If everyone is adding a sweeper, will it really still be as effective:

You’ve gotta read the piece for the full effect, but, first of all, not EVERYONE is adding a sweeper, because not everyone’s strengths play to actually using the pitch, and also not every attempt is going to actually succeed. To that point, Cubs AGM and VP of Pitching spoke generally (no specifics!) on how the Cubs sort it out:

“There’s a lot of ways to generate swing-and-miss,” Breslow said. “You can try to get a guy to throw harder, you can change the shape, you can look at usage and location. (The sweeper slider) is one path. From there, you start to think about characteristics that lend themselves to this pitch. That’s probably where I have to be a little careful with what I share.”

Breslow isn’t going to publicize every detail of how they identify pitchers who might benefit from this particular pitch. But it can be how the body moves, the existing spin components to their current pitches or other factors.

“It would be in the same way that we’d look at a guy and say, ‘Is this guy a candidate for a downer curveball?’” Breslow said. “We would look at raw spin, we would look at the ability to supinate and pronate, we would look at some different arm path characteristics. We’d put all of those together and ask, ‘Is this our best option?’”

  • Sometimes, you’re actually better off trying to improve an existing pitch, or working more on pitch location, or this or that. It’s not nearly as simple as saying, “Hey, the sweeper is a good pitch, everyone should start throwing it!”
  • As to the other big consideration – if more pitchers around the league start throwing sweeping sliders, it’ll become less effective – it’s certainly possible. That’s kinda how all these things work, and you just look to create edges wherever you can. Ultimately, there’s not going to be a silver bullet here – the pitch will be useful for some guys to some extent – but it’s worth remembering that almost any pitch can be effective if it’s got a good shape and you can locate it a little bit. The traditional gyro slider, after all, is still a very effective pitch, too!
  • Great read from Sharma, as his pieces on advanced pitching topics always are. Recommended read, especially here at the start of Spring Training, since we’re likely to be hearing much more about pitch development and deployment.
  • Theo Epstein, in his official capacity as The New Rules Czar for MLB:
  • I love this, especially because I just mentioned this morning that Christopher Morel was the other guy, in addition to Seiya Suzuki, who was looking really jacked this spring:
  • This is the kind of lighter fare that I like to see coming out of Spring Training. Not revolutionary or hard news, but just kinda interesting to see who these guys throw with and what they say:
  • Nico Hoerner on the move back to second base, and re-orienting himself:
  • Justin Steele had the hitters STRUGGLING:
  • The one from Trey Mancini in here is a BULLET:

The fifth starter competitors were all throwing today, with Javier Assad doing live BP:

  • And Adrian Sampson and Hayden Wesneski throwing bullpens:
  • The rare (though the Cubs have now done it two years in a row) minor league phase Rule 5 pick who has big league experience. Can’t wait to hear how he’s looking this spring, because he had serious heat when he was healthy:
  • So, if Seiya already looks like this, what happens if you make him angry?
  • Tim Sheridan always gets great shots from Cubs Spring Training:
  • The team that hangs together bangs together, and boy did that not come out like I intended:
  • Cristian Hernández still has an incredibly aesthetically pleasing swing, confirmed:

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.