Chatwood activated, ready for fresh start in 'pen
Maddon puts forth Zobrist for Comeback Player of Year Award
MILWAUKEE -- Tyler Chatwood was activated from the disabled list on Monday. What's next for the Cubs' right-hander is tough to say as he tries to work on his command.
"We'll just look for spots to get him out there," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said Monday. "We're not going to pop him into the rotation. We'll keep working and attempt to get him out there and keep trying to unlock this thing. The arm is great, the stuff is great. It's obviously a command issue. We've just got to get him out there throwing strikes again."
Chatwood still leads the Major Leagues in walks (93) even though he's been sidelined with a sore left hip. He had a nightmarish third inning for Triple-A Iowa on Sunday. Chatwood walked the first two batters, then gave up a two-run triple, then walked the next two batters to load the bases. Chatwood hit a batter to force in a run, struck out a batter and was lifted.
"I feel for the guy," said Cubs reliever Brian Duensing, who was rehabbing with Chatwood at Iowa at the same time and was also activated Monday. "I've got to give him credit. He keeps going out and keeps giving it everything he has. He's not quitting. I really hope something clicks and he gets back to his old self.
"He's obviously better than what's going on, and everyone knows that," Duensing said. "There's some kind of disconnect there. Once he figures it out, he'll be back to his old self."
When the Cubs signed Chatwood to a three-year contract in the offseason, they were hoping that getting him out of Coors Field was all the right-hander needed. In 2017, he was 3-8 with a 6.01 ERA in Denver and 5-7 with a 3.49 ERA on the road. It hasn't worked. This season, he's 4-6 with a 5.16 ERA in 20 starts and has a 6.35 ERA in three relief appearances.
Duensing watched Chatwood's side session and said the right-hander was spotting everything, and had good velocity and deception.
"He even said, 'Baseball is fun again, let's do it,'" Duensing said.
But Chatwood couldn't carry that over into the game on Sunday.
"As a fellow teammate, as a fellow pitcher, you feel for him because you know what's going through his head," Duensing said. "It's a terrible feeling when you don't know where it's going. It's a lonely feeling on the mound."
What's the outlook for next season? The hope is that he is back in the rotation.
"We've got to get him back in the zone," Maddon said. "I'd like to believe that an offseason of chilling out and trying to become less mechanical and more external, just seeing the target and throwing the baseball to it [will help]. As long as he's well, which he is, command -- I don't know how else to say it. He doesn't know where the ball is going now."
Benjamin Zobrist batted .232 in 128 games last season, and this year, he's ranked among the top four batters in the National League at .310. Maddon says Zobrist should be considered for the Comeback Player of the Year Award.
"What Zobrist has done and based on his age and everything else, Zo for me is that guy," Maddon said. "Until we got Daniel [Murphy], he's set the tone offensively for this team. I know Javy [Baez's] numbers are wonderful, but the at-bats that Zo lays out every night, night after night that he plays, is different. I think he's influenced a lot of guys.
"For me, Zo, I think he really epitomizes what that award should be."
The charter flights for both the Cubs and the Brewers landed in Chicago on Sunday night as weather in Milwaukee altered their plans. Both teams rode buses to Milwaukee instead of trying to fly. Maddon was OK with the diversion. He watched the end of the game between the Angels and Astros on his iPad.