Cubs

Colter's big day only scratches the surface of his potential

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Colter's big day only scratches the surface of his potential

If Northwestern truly has only begun to showcase what they plan to do with Kain Colter, Big Ten opponents could be in for a long season.

Following Colters career day in a 44-29 win over Indiana the junior rushed for 161 yards and four touchdowns and caught nine passes for 131 yards Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald said the Wildcats have much more in store for how they plan to use their ultra-talented offensive weapon.

Im very proud of the way hes playing, but none of us are surprised, Fitzergald saisd. We knew that in high school, and it shows obviously the way that he can pick up our system. And were just getting started, Ill put it to you that way, with the things were gonna do there.

Even if Saturday was just the beginning, it wasnt a bad way to start. The Wildcats compiled a program-record 704 yards of offense in the win, helped out by Colters 292 out of the backfield as a runner and in the slot as a receiver.

I thought we had a good plan, Fitzgerald said. And Kains Kain. Hes unbelievable. Hes as dynamic of a young man, maybe, I think, in this conference, with the versatility and the things that he can do.

His nine catches were the first nine of his season after four weeks behind center, rushing and passing. Part of Fitzgeralds decision to have Colter leave the helm and move into the slot is the progression of redshirt sophomore Trevor Siemian, who passed for 308 yards in the win over the Hoosiers.

Six of Colters nine receptions came on third down, and all six were converted.

Kain did a good job of shaking loose and beating his guy, Siemian said. I dont think they had an answer for Kain all day; at receiver, at quarterback, wherever it was. If hes getting loose, Im going to get him the ball.

With Colters versatility to play anywhere on the field, Siemians decision-making, and not to mention running back Venric Mark (29 rushes, 139 yards, 1 TD), the Wildcats offense could start featuring two quarterbacks more often than not.

Were trying to find a way to get our best 11 on the field, Fitzgerald said. I think we came out of the first four games and said, every time we took Kain off the field, we looked at ourselves collectively as a coaching staff and said, What are we doing here?

The same, Fitzgerald added, could be said for Siemian.

Those two guys are in our best 11, some way, shape or form in what we believe in philosophically and offensively and as a program, he said. And how can we exploit the talents that our young men have to our advantage, I think this was kind of the first chapter of what we plan to do.

As he usually does, Colter could only deflect the praise for his career day elsewhere, but theres no denying the Northwestern offense is running as smooth as ever at the perfect time.

The offensive line, Trevor Siemian and the receivers really did a good job today, Colter said. We just went out there and executed the game plan. The coaches provided us with a great game plan.

We went out there, executed and made a lot of plays, he added.

And if this is just the beginning, as Fitzgerald claims, thats a phrase Colter should get used to saying this season.

Yu Darvish's Cutter Might Be What Turns His Season Around

Yu Darvish's Cutter Might Be What Turns His Season Around

Over the past two starts, Yu Darvish has walked three batters. That stat isn’t going to catch too many eyes until you realize that in the two starts prior, he walked 11. And the two starts before those? 7. 

Control issues have plagued Darvish all season, and if the season ended today, he’d set a career-high in BB% (16.6). He’s walked at least four batters in all but three of his starts. It’s been a mess so far, but it might not be for much longer. Look at how Darvish’s pitch selection has changed over the last eight weeks:


That’s a mighty big increase in two-seamer usage. Darvish was throwing his cutter barely 5% of the time at the start of the season, and now he’s throwing it basically once every four pitches. The cutter seen a 10% increase over the first two months as well. A game-by-game breakdown shows you just how much Darvish’s approach has changed of late: 


So, things look a little different now. That spike in sinker usage came against the Marlins, when he only got through four innings while allowing a run with six walks and seven strikeouts. He admitted after the game that he got too cozy with the pitch. 

More notably, Darvish’s cutter usage continues to steadily rise. That’s good news for the Cubs, because since over the last two years, it’s been one of his more effective pitches. 

It’s also probably not a coincidence that in Darvish’s best years, his cutter has been one of his most accurate pitches. The stretch from 2013-2016 (he missed all of 2015) saw some of the lowest BB% for his cutter: 

“I just think he has better command of that pitch,” Joe Maddon said. “I think he has a better idea of where that pitch is going. I think that’s the biggest difference with it. Because of that, it’s been more effective because he can throw it where he wants to. I think that’s the primary difference. 

News and notes

  • The Cubs called up Tim Collins and Dillon Maples before Saturday’s game. Collins was up briefly in mid-April, pitching 3.1 IPs in four outings. This is also Maples second time up this season, after making three appearances in late-April/early-May. “We had to,” Joe Maddon said about calling up the pair. “There’s a lot of stuff going on right now, a lot of usage. We’ve been in nearly every game we’ve been playing, so it’s difficult to give guy breaks.”
  • The corresponding move saw the Cubs option OF Mark Zagunis to Triple-A Iowa. In 29 games this season, Zagunis slashed .257/.333/.343 with a .676 OPS. “We’ve had these young guys that have not had a chance to play with regularity,” Maddon said. “It’s wonderful for them to be in the major leagues, but developmentally sometimes it can really hurt them. He’ll be back.” 
  • With a short bench, Maddon admitted that pitcher Tyler Chatwood could be a pinch hitter. “He’s legit,” he said. “I don’t know when or how, but he definitely has to have his spikes on.”
  • Pedro Strop is scheduled to throw a bullpen on Saturday. They have another one scheduled in a couple of days. Maddon noted that he’s getting close, and mentioned the end of next week as a potential timeline to when they’d more about his rehab assignment plans. 

White Sox promote catcher Seby Zavala from Triple-A Charlotte as Welington Castillo lands on IL

White Sox promote catcher Seby Zavala from Triple-A Charlotte as Welington Castillo lands on IL

The White Sox catching depth will soon be put to the test.

Saturday, the White Sox placed catcher Welington Castillo on seven-day concussion list. In a corresponding move, the team promoted catcher Seby Zavala from Triple-A Charlotte, 

In 26 games this season, Castillo holds a .176/.286/.318 slashline with three home runs in 85 at-bats. He exited Friday's game against the Twins in the eighth inning after taking two foul tips off of his catcher's mask. 

While White Sox manager Rick Renteria said Friday that Castillo didn't go into concussion protocol, the team is likely being precautious due to the nature of the injury. 

Zavala, 25, has yet to appear in the big leagues, though he's played in 360 minor league games since the White Sox selected him in the 12th round of the 2015 MLB Draft. He holds a career slashline of .267/.335/.457 across all minor league levels, reaching Triple-A for the first time last season. 

Zavala's slashline this season is currently below his career averages (.218/.253/.506 in 21 games), but he's hit six home runs in 87 at-bats. Last season, he hit 13 in a combined 380 at-bats between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte.

Although the circumstances of his promotion are not ideal, Zavala is leaving Charlotte on a high-note. In last night's game against the Durham Bulls, he went 1-for-3 with a two-run home run.

With Castillo out, the White Sox will likely lean on James McCann more. In 31 games this season, McCann holds a stellar .333/.373/.523 slashline

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