Chicago Cubs: Matt Szczur’s sixth promotion shows value in young outfielder

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Before the Chicago Cubs took the field and picked up their third straight win over the San Francisco Giants at Wrigley Field to jump 2 1/2 games in the N.L. Wild Card standings, it was announced that outfielder Matt Szczur was promoted for the sixth time this season.

The reason behind this young outfielder’s call-up is that veteran catcher David Ross was placed on the bereavement as reported by ESPN Chicago’s own Jesse Rogers. Some have shown some frustration on how this front office continues to use Szczur as a pawn, calling him up one day then sending him down the next to make room for a returning player.

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While it’s understandable, there’s no reason to be upset with these moves. The fact that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer continue to choose him as another option for Joe Maddon‘s lineup proves how valuable he is to this organization as a whole.

He’s not a threat like Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, or even Addison Russell, but the 26-year-old has played well on both levels this season. During his time with the Triple-A Iowa Cubs, Szczur has recorded seven home runs, three triples, 10 doubles, 26 RBI and 66 hits while hitting a solid .295/.360/.451 with an OPS of .811.

While hosting the Los Angeles Dodgers back in mid-June, his biggest at-bats of the game extended Chicago’s lead to 3-1 on a 382 ft. solo bomb to left field off last year’s N.L. Cy Young winner, Clayton Kershaw in the seventh inning.

The Cubs would go on to winning that game by the final score of 4-2 and eventually earn themselves a split with the current N.L. West leaders.

However, his biggest performance of the season came in extra-innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates on May 15. Szczur finished the game 2-for-7 with three runs batted in, including a walk-off hit to right field.

It was a bizarre play in which outfielder Gregory Polanco slipped when attempting to make what should have been a routine play with one out and the bases loaded full of Cubs in the 12th.

His first two knocks of the ballgame came during the bottom of the fifth on a two-run RBI single which scored both Starlin Castro and former Cub, Welington Castillo to pad Chicago’s lead to 7-1.

Not only has he chipped in on offense, but his glove has been perfect. So far in his young career, Szczur has made 10 starts in left, seven in center and another four in right with a combined 56 appearances all-around.

With right-handed ace Jake Arrieta taking the mound in tomorrow’s series finale, Szczur could get the start in either center field for Dexter Fowler or right for Jorge Soler to give them a day off.

Matt has the opportunity to surpass early career-highs in hits, at-bats, walks, and home run’s this season. He sits with 13 hits, four doubles, one home run, eight RBI, three walks and two stolen bases with a soft .217/.250/.333 batting line in 60 at-bats.

So, not only is this man a hero for life, he’s also a small underrated piece to this playoff-hopeful puzzle.

Next: Cubs make it three straight against San Francisco