Schwarber didn’t want you to forget about him just yet
If you had by chance missed the Chicago Cubs’ debut of Kyle Schwarber–his mini audition of sorts–he wanted to remind you that he’s coming back soon. Schwarber ripped an 0-2 fastball into the right field corner for a two-run triple in Sunday’s SiriusXM Futures Game, good enough to claim the MVP Award. Just a little “don’t forget about me” for everyone.
His brief stay in Chicago was impressive (.364/.391/.591, with a home run and six RBIs), and his pace in Iowa is actually better than it was at Double-A. The Cubs are getting beat up behind the plate, and there is a clear need for more offense. So could Schwarber be coming back soon?
I think that we won’t have to wait till September to see him, but I think Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer will give him as much work behind the plate at Iowa as possible before calling him back up. Catchers take a lot of abuse behind the plate, and recent injuries to David Ross and Miguel Montero–while not severe–show just how much depth behind the plate is needed.
Clearly there will be a lot lost defensively, even if Schwarber does make great strides before a return to Chicago. The biggest asset that Montero and Ross provide has been pitch framing. Both can still get it done with their arms, but the pitching staff of the Cubs isn’t conducive to cutting down would-be base stealers–and that’s not just a knock on Jon Lester.
Essentially the Cubs are looking for a Mike Piazza performance down the stretch more than a Yadier Molina. The pitching staff has been amazing, and can of course be attributed to Montero and Ross. Schwarber wouldn’t assume full-time duties behind the plate, and the outfield experiment isn’t out of the question.
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But it’s becoming clear the team still needs another starter–for depth more as much as anything– and offense. He proved to be more than capable in his six games up this season and continues to do the job at Triple-A. The Cubs aren’t likely to make any “big” moves unless something amazing happens in the week immediately after the All-Star break. But with a quality bat already in the system, it would bode well for the Cubs to focus on pitching and stay in-house for offense.
There’s also an improved Arismendy Alcantara, as well as a possible return from Javier Baez who was cleared to start swinging the bat, but that’s as much info as they’ve released. No timetable on a return. But instead of looking to fill needs in a season that wasn’t “supposed to be their time”, the Cubs have some options to turn to before trading prospects away.
We’re going to see Schwarber again this season. It’s all a matter of when and not “if”.