Cubs Not Trying Pitcher PitchCom Yet
There are so many rules changes and functional changes and differences this spring (including the simple fact that it’s the first “normal” spring training in four years!) that it can be a little hard to keep up. I try to check in when I can, or at least tee up for you all various things when they pop up.
For example, did you remember that pitchers are able to use PitchCom on their own this spring? The PitchCom device – electronically calling pitches instead of using hand signals – reached wide adoption by catchers by the end of the 2022 season. So now, MLB is allowing pitchers to experiment this spring with using the devices on their own to call pitches to the catcher.
For what it’s worth, the Cubs are not participating in that experiment.
Pitching Coach Tommy Hottovy told The Tribune that the Cubs are leery about the pitcher and catcher both being able to call pitches, because they might be pushing buttons at the same time and needlessly causing confusion. Yes, it would be handy to have the pitcher make a call when the clock is winding down and the two can’t get on the same page, but so far, that’s been a rare issue. The Cubs would rather just let their catchers lead the way for the pitchers so there aren’t overlaps.
I tend to think that’s not just a technological perspective, either. Keep in mind, the Cubs specifically wanted to use catchers like Yan Gomes and Tucker Barnhart because of their ability to call games. Game-planning with the pitcher before-hand, but also adjusting on the fly throughout the game based on what they’re seeing from the pitchers and the batters and the umpires. Philosophically, the Cubs don’t necessarily WANT pitchers calling their own pitches.
Could and would there be exceptions for veteran pitchers who know themselves and their opponents so well that sometimes it’s just best to them go? Of course. I’m sure if Marcus Stroman were absolutely adamant that he wanted the ability to call his own pitches, the Cubs would find a way to make that work. But all else equal, they want Gomes and Barnhart doing it, because that’s part of their skillset.