Chicago Cubs: Pitch Lab shows team’s commitment to advancement

(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) /

Technological advancements dominate Major League Baseball. That’s no different for the Chicago Cubs, who are teaching their pitchers with a “Pitch Lab.”

Advancements in player development are the newest innovation to get excited about in Major League Baseball. It appears the Chicago Cubs are right in the thick of things when it comes to technological advancement.

Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic (subscription required) wrote an article last week that unveils some background on what the Cubs call their “Pitch Lab.”

It’s an area that opened for Spring Training last year and is functioning now, with some recent advancements having been added to further improve it. The Pitch Lab includes several new technologies including Rapsodo devices, Edgertronic cameras and KinaTrax.

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What does it do?

Rapsodo machines are used in bullpens to track pitches and provide information on spin rate, velocity and movement of pitches, among other things. Edgertronic cameras provide high-speed video, and KinaTrax creates 3D images of pitchers to help with biomechanical analysis.

These new technologies are becoming more and more prevalent throughout the game, and teams need to continue to implement and teach them so they don’t fall behind. The Cubs seem to be doing just that with their Pitch Lab.

It’s encouraging to know the Cubs are doing whatever they can to keep up with the player development advances happening in the game now. While they’ve struggled with developing homegrown pitchers in the past, new technologies that give pitchers more of a sense of what they need to do to improve can only help them improve in that area going forward.

Who has benefited?

Sharma quoted a number of Cubs’ pitchers in his article who gave their thoughts on how the Pitch Lab has benefited them. Kyle Hendricks said KinaTrax helped him when he dealt with velocity issues early in the 2017 season. Cole Hamels said he’s benefited from using data more heavily, and new reliever Brad Brach spoke highly of it as well.

Jon Lester seems reluctant to use data as much, claiming to be more a “feel guy.” But for younger pitchers coming up through the organization, the technological advancements could be a useful tool as they look to optimize their deliveries and combat problems they face along the way to the big leagues.

Often, it takes a tough stretch for a pitcher to fully embrace the use of technologies like KinaTrax and Rapsodo. If they’re struggling with command or velocity, they may be more willing to give the Pitch Lab a try to find out what they’re doing wrong and what they can do to improve. If it helps, even a veteran like Lester might be more open to giving it a try with the right instruction from team personnel as to what all the data means and how it can benefit them.

While the specifics of it are still somewhat under wraps, the Pitch Lab shows a commitment to advancement from the Cubs that it’s important for organizations to have nowadays. By no means should they be doing away with scouting and more traditional ways of improvement, but to keep up with the rest of the pack and provide a variety of options for young pitchers, player development technology is important.

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Organizations everywhere are finding new ways to better themselves and help pitchers make every small improvement possible. The Pitch Lab shows an important commitment to improvement by the Cubs. Even if they aren’t necessarily spending the big bucks to bring more arms into the system, at least they’re doing everything they can to develop and improve the ones who are already there.