Cubs envision battery of Jordan Wicks and Miguel Amaya as ‘a big part of our future’

Amaya was behind the plate for Wicks’ major-league debut Saturday.

SHARE Cubs envision battery of Jordan Wicks and Miguel Amaya as ‘a big part of our future’
If all goes to plan, catcher Miguel Amaya will be signing autographs for Cubs fans for years to come.

If all goes to plan, catcher Miguel Amaya will be signing autographs for Cubs fans for years to come.

AP Photos

PITTSBURGH — The Cubs’ starting pitcher and catcher Saturday were younger than 25 years old. Left-hander Jordan Wicks, who will turn 24 on Friday, made his major-league debut, and 24-year-old Miguel Amaya served as his guide with 39 major-league games under his belt.

They played like a more seasoned duo.

‘‘Hopefully a big part of our future was the battery [Saturday],’’ manager David Ross said before the Cubs’ 10-1 victory Sunday against the Pirates. ‘‘And so that was exciting to get eyes on that, see what that looks like. That’s just a nice symbol of where we’re going.’’

After giving up a home run, a single and a walk to start the game, Wicks retired the next 15 batters through the end of his five-inning outing. Of his nine strikeouts, five came in a row.

‘‘He did a tremendous job,’’ Amaya said after the game. ‘‘Great guy. He took command on all of his pitches today, dominating the batters, getting on top of them, controlling his game and executing pitches right away.’’

The pair began the season together in Double-A Tennessee. Amaya made his major-league debut in May, when Yan Gomes went on the concussion injured list. Wicks played a couple of months in Triple-A Iowa before his debut Saturday.

‘‘Miggy did absolutely outstanding behind the plate,’’ Wicks said after the game. ‘‘He was a real calming force for me.’’

Wicks’ changeup and confidence attacking the strike zone stood out. For Ross, however, it was even more rewarding to watch how he used his other secondary pitches — on both sides of the plate — to make his changeup even more effective.

‘‘Guys that rely on the changeup do have this ability to read where a hitter is,’’ pitching coach Tommy Hottovy said. ‘‘ ‘Is he on my fastball? Was he trying to get to my heater a little bit more?’ So I think it’s just something he’s learned over his career.’’

Veteran right-hander Kyle Hendricks, renowned for his changeup, agreed that having a changeup-forward arsenal can force a young pitcher to learn to read swings early.

‘‘You saw that [Saturday]; he froze a couple of guys on heaters,’’ Hendricks told the Sun-Times about Wicks. ‘‘I think that was just reading the swing. Reading the swing and reading body language.’’

Hendricks got to know Wicks in spring training and has thrown to Amaya more than any other catcher this season.

‘‘Those two, they could be around here for a long, long time,’’ Hendricks said. ‘‘And I’m hoping I’m sitting back on my couch still watching them in these unis.’’

Pitching prevails

The Cubs got another dominant start Sunday. Right-hander Javier Assad held the Pirates to one run and three hits in seven innings. It was his third consecutive start of more than five innings with three or fewer runs allowed.

Reliever Keegan Thompson pitched two scoreless innings in his first major-league appearance since May 17. He struck out five of the seven batters he faced.

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