Chicago Cubs: Kyle Schwarber out for the season after tearing ACL, LCL

Apr 7, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 7, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Chicago Cubs’ young slugger Kyle Schwarber tore both his ACL and LCL, which will keep him out for the remainder of the 2016 season.

The MRI results of the Chicago Cubs’ young slugger Kyle Schwarber provided the worst possible news early Friday evening. After colliding with center fielder Dexter Fowler going for a fly ball last night, Schwarber tore both his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and his lateral collateral ligament (LCL) in his left knee.

He will miss the remainder of the 2016 season, according to Jon Heyman on Twitter. Schwarber and Fowler collided in the left-center field gap going for a fly ball hit by Diamondbacks’ shortstop Jean Segura. With both running at full speed and watching the ball, neither had a chance to avoid the collision.

Fowler fell into Schwarber, slamming into the young power hitter’s left leg. He was fortunate enough to get up from the collision unscathed, but Schwarber was clearly not as lucky.

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The injury definitely is a blow to the Cubs, as Schwarber was expected to provide power hitting in the middle of the team’s lineup. In 2015, he hit .246 with 16 home runs and 43 RBI’s in just 69 games. He also hit five home runs in the postseason, an all-time record for the Cubs.

In addition, he was scheduled to catch every start of pitcher Jason Hammel, which would have been beneficial in his development as a catcher.

Most catchers stay in the minor leagues for several seasons before getting promoted to the big leagues, as it allows them to further their skills behind the plate. Schwarber was only in the minors for a little more than a year, as he signed with the Cubs on June 11th, 2014 and was promoted to the big leagues on June 15th, 2015.

While Schwarber’s injury is unfortunate, devastating, sad, etc., the Cubs built their 2016 roster to be able to withstand something like this. In fact, the team has been anointed one of the deepest, if not the deepest, clubs in all of baseball.

The team has numerous options to fill-in for Schwarber in left field. The team could choose to move third baseman Kris Bryant to left on a permanent basis, playing either Tommy La Stella at second base or Javier Báez at third base.

Another option would be to put second baseman Ben Zobrist in left field, playing Báez or La Stella as a result. Zobrist has played nearly every position during his career, as manager Joe Maddon moved him around frequently while members of the Tampa Bay Rays. Zobrist has experience playing all three outfield positions, in fact.

One option that seemingly makes the most sense would be to play outfielder Jorge Soler in left field. While Soler is a natural right fielder, he was expected to share time with Schwarber in left field this year due to the arrival of Jason Heyward, a Gold Glove award-winning right fielder.

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One issue with Soler is that he struggled to stay healthy in 2015, playing just 101 in his first full season in the MLB. However, he did have a strong postseason, hitting .474 with three home runs and five RBI in seven games.

Soler also set an MLB record in the postseason, reaching base safely in his first nine plate appearances. If he can reproduce results similar to those, the Cubs might have their best solution to play left field every day in Soler.

Regardless of what the Cubs decide, the simple matter of fact here is that the franchise is very deep, with great players on the big league club and in the minor leagues. The team has the luxury to put out a different starting lineup every day, depending on who matches up best against the opposing starting pitcher.

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Schwarber’s injury is not something to quickly brush off, but it is not something the team can afford to linger on. The MLB season is a grind and the Cubs still have 159 games left, maybe even more if they make the playoffs. All in all, though, here’s to a strong and successful recovery, Kyle!