I wasn’t quite sure where to begin this five series post about DJ Herz. Should I focus on statistics? Should I focus on things he should improve on? Should I focus on a certain type of pitch he could throw in 2023?

What I wound up deciding to do is just five things you should know about DJ Herz heading into 2023.

1. Locked Down

In 2022, the Cubs had DJ Herz basically on “lock down.“ All that meant was that he was to throw the same three pitches all year long. He wasn’t to add a pitch or to make too many adjustments on those pitches. He was going to be throwing his fastball, the Vulcan change up, and his curve and that was it. And based upon how he did at South Bend, there was really no need to change. It wasn’t until he got to Tennessee, that DJ began to have some issues.

2. Motivation

Heading into 2022, DJ wanted to win back-to-back Pitcher of the Year awards in the Cubs’ organization. He is not afraid of putting in the work and setting high goals for himself. Even though Tennessee did not go as planned, it was only 33 innings and there were a lot of things to learn. He did go on the development list for a little while and came back and pitched well in the playoffs. He is going to be highly motivated to succeed in 2023. He wants to get that award again, I can assure you of that.


Picture by Todd Johnson

3. Adjusting

Even though DJ won Pitcher of the Year while mostly at Myrtle Beach in 2021, it was not all smooth sailing. He had to make adjustments a couple of times throughout that year as hitters began to catch on to what he was doing. On his crossfire delivery, as you can see in the picture above, it really is a unique view for the hitter. It’s hard to pick up the baseball to begin with, and the ball moves differently from that arm angle. It’s more of an illusion because the ball seems to be cutting horizontally as it either comes in on a right handed hitter or away from a left-handed hitter. But guys at Double-A laid off pitches because they’re better hitters. DJ needs to become a better pitcher and throw more strikes to offset the higher level of competition.


4. A Fourth Pitch

DJ has added a slider this winter. We will soon see if there’s enough differentiation of movement between that new pitch and his old curve. The pitch I would also like to see DJ add would be a cutter as it might allow him to jam up right handers a little bit more but it would have an action that might suit him better in that crossfire delivery. We’ll see what all DJ comes up with here in the next couple of months and if he has 5 pitches or 4.

5. Executing

If DJ puts any of his pitches where he wants him, he’s going to be tough to hit. His delivery ensures that the ball moves a little differently and that it’s hard to pick up. But the key is executing his pitches. The Cubs supposedly have shortened up his delivery to generate more accuracy. He doesn’t have to strike everybody out, he just needs to put the ball in places where the hitter can either swing and miss or get themselves out by grounding out or popping up. As well, the Cubs will also be having him wear red contacts to combat light sensitivity as he basically has been throwing with one eye closed.

DJ’s never been one who surrenders up a lot of gopher balls. But last year he gave up twice as many home runs in half as many innings at Tennessee than he did at South Bend. He also walked 20% of the men he faced in Double-A. That has got to change. He said at the Cubs Convention that he was adjusting to hitters with more patience than at South Bend.

There’s no doubt the DJ is going to set his own goals to achieve for 2023. They might include winning Pitcher of the Year for the second time in three years. Those goals probably include getting to Iowa this year and to Chicago next. If he’s going to be a starter, he’s going to have to pack on innings in 2023 – somewhere between 120-140. To get there, he’s going to have to be efficient and adapt as the season goes on while executing his pitches. Everything kind of fits together. It’s going to be fun to watch him go at it every fifth day in the Southern League.


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