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Trevor Williams is gearing up to be a factor in the Cubs’ rotation

1 year agoAndy Martinez

MESA, Ariz. — Trevor Williams is optimistic 2021 will be a return to normal from a pitcher’s perspective.

But he’s well aware that given the circumstances from the 2020 season, things could be ever-changing for pitchers.

“There’s gonna be fallout around the league,” Williams said. “There’s no real precedent for what happened last season.”

So, Williams did the only real thing he could do: prepare his body and mind to pitch a full season. He planned his offseason workout regimen as if he would make 30 or more starts in the season and the grind that comes with it.

He’s not the only one who did that. The Cubs signed a few veterans – Williams, Jake Arrieta and Shelby Miller among them — with starting pedigree to go along with Kyle Hendricks, Alec Mills, Adbert Alzolay and other young arms who could fill out the rotation. All of them are on a similar path as Williams.

“I’m on a 5-day sequence, as are a lot of guys,” Williams said. “It’s one of those where there’s a lot of guys that can take those rotation spots. There’s a lot of guys that can capitalize on an opportunity here.”

Tuesday was Williams’ starting day and it was an effective outing. He allowed 1 run on 2 hits and struck out 2 in 3 innings of work.

“Overall, I thought it went great,” Williams said. “If we’re gonna look back at what we can do better, it’s just efficiency in the zone. But I thought my misses weren’t huge. Especially early in the counts, I thought my misses weren’t huge so that was encouraging.”

That gives him confidence as he stretches out for his next outing, where he’ll pitch 4 innings, if things go well. In the meantime, he’ll continue to work on his sinker. In 2018, which was best career year statistically, he had his lowest K/9 ratio (6.6). His worst year statistically was last season where he had the highest K/9 ratio of his career (8.0). He believes his sinker usage can help him find a happy medium.

“It is an interesting way to look at it because I’ve never been a strikeout pitcher,” Williams said. “It goes back to utilizing my sinker in the zone. Because that’s not a high swing and miss pitch, but it is a high get the ball on the ground pitch.”

That allows Williams to add another facet to his game.

“I think the main thing for me — and Tommy and I have been working on it heavily — is dialing in my delivery which all starts from the rubber and then dialing my sinker usage and four-seam usage to all sides,” Williams said.

While it’s still been a couple of weeks into camp, Ross has been encouraged by the performances of the arms who are vying for those spots.

“I think there’s been a lot of guys that have been in that starter mix that seemed [good],” Ross said. “We’re just looking for them to get out there and get reacclimated to the environment and get back to competing and utilizing the things they worked on in the offseason and things we’ve identified.”

Other notes from camp

  • Rafael Ortega gave the crowd at Sloan Park something to cheer about. His walk-off grand slam capped a 9-8 victory that riled up the 3,423 fans in attendance. As the Cubs mounted their rally, the cheers for each individual player could be clearly heard, including a chant of “AVELINO” for infielder Abiatal Avelino. When Ortega’s ball cleared the fence, it sent the crowd into a frenzy as they stuck around to sing “Go Cubs Go.” In 13 at-bats in the spring, Ortega has 7 RBI and an .846 OPS.
  • Joc Pederson continued his strong offensive spring, going 2-for-3 with a double and a solo home run in the 4th Pederson has 3 home runs and 7 RBI to go along with a 1.672 OPS this spring.

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