Edwards hopes pause in delivery aids accuracy

Cubs shrug off latest NL Central projections; Hottovy out to collect data

February 14th, 2019

MESA, Ariz. -- The delivery that unveiled during his first official bullpen session of Spring Training this week looked a lot like the one used by Dodgers closer . The Cubs reliever kicked his left leg high, but then he paused after bringing his foot down, hesitating before driving toward the plate.

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That was by design.

"I watched a lot of video of Jansen," Edwards said. "I think that's probably why he has so much control. He actually gets his foot down and gets his breath and he can deliver the pitch."

Edwards worked on the mechanical change during the offseason, starting with mimicking the pause in front of a mirror. The right-hander then tried it out while playing catch and eventually took it to mound workouts. The idea was his, but the idea behind it aligns with what the Cubs want to see from Edwards this spring and during the upcoming season.

Last season, the 27-year-old Edwards turned in a 2.60 ERA with a 30.2 percent strikeout rate over 52 innings (67 punchouts), but he struggled to stay in the strike zone. The righty issued 32 walks, which equated to a 14.4 percent walk rate. As Chicago continues to look to get the most out of Edwards' electric arm, especially to help pick up the slack while closer is sidelined in April, the team hopes to see better control of the zone.

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The delivery adjustment is aimed at helping Edwards improve in that area.

"I think that's a really good drill to do now," said Cubs pitching coach Tommy Hottovy, who noted that the method would be used with no runners on base. "It's going to be a work in progress, but I like the early signs of it, because he's staying over himself, he's gathered. And you can see he goes up and down and he was balanced and he's able to drive."

Cubs ignoring latest projections

The recently released PECOTA projections by Baseball Prospectus have the Cubs with an 80-82 record, as things currently stand. The Brewers are projected to be back atop the National League Central with an 88-74 record.

"It is entertaining," said Cubs manager Joe Maddon, shrugging off the latest projections. "Who knows why or how they arrive at that stuff? But it really means nothing. It really does mean nothing. You've got to go out and play the game. You've got to compete. I have zero interest in something like that."

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It's worth noting that the FanGraphs' projections have the Cubs in first with 88 wins and the Brewers in the division cellar with 79 wins.

"I don't pay attention to it," Edwards said. "The last few years, we have been that team to beat. I still feel that same way about it. I still feel like we're the team to beat, regardless of how teams are stacked up now."

Cubs collecting data

In the early portion of camp, Hottovy wants to have as many relievers as possible pitch on the mounds rigged with Edgertronic high-speed cameras and Rapsodo data-collection units. That will give the pitchers footage and information to pore over as they refine their deliveries. The starting pitchers will also get time on those mounds closer to when games begin.

"Having two [mounds wired] lets me get six guys a day," Hottovy said. "We can get guys on there on a consistent basis and really get baselines, get video. Guys come in right when they're done and are able to watch that and compare data and see where they're at."

Quote to note

"As a kid growing up, we all played. And I promise you, not one time when you're in Little League or even high school or college did you worry about mechanics as much as you worried that you wanted to beat the other team with that other name on it. Really, that's an over-simplification, but I want us to reduce the game to that. When it says St. Louis on the jersey, beat it. When it says Milwaukee, you want to beat it. Again, I think we get so enamored with all this other stuff that you just forget to compete sometimes." -- Maddon