Chicago Cubs: Kyle Schwarber rides the pine as team watches lead narrow
By Jake Misener
As the Chicago Cubs suffered a three-game sweep over the weekend, Kyle Schwarber, for the most part, sat the bench watching his teammates’ bats sputter.
It’s been covered into the ground at this point. This weekend was a train wreck for the Chicago Cubs. Not only did they suffer a three-game sweep at home at the hands of the Milwaukee Brewers, but the St. Louis Cardinals swept the Pirates to keep pace with the pack.
In three games, Chicago managed a mere three runs, going 2-for-20 with runners in scoring position. The offense looked perhaps worse than it has over any three-game set yet this year. After playing for nearly three-straight weeks without a day off, this team looked lost and defeated.
Notably absent for most of the weekend was slugger Kyle Schwarber. The postseason legend came off the bench and homered in Saturday’s 15-2 blowout loss, but he did not start a single game this weekend.
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On the year, the former first-rounder owns a .201/.312/.444 slash line. Since the All-Star Break, that comes out to a .239/.333/.528 mark. His OPS jumped roughly 170 points from the first-half to second-half – a notable improvement.
Even after watching from the bench all weekend, the former Indiana University standout refuses to make excuses for his struggles – or cause a scene about playing time.
"“I don’t want to blame it on that (missing the 2016 regular season) at all,” he told the Chicago Tribune. “There were mechanical problems with me. You try to make adjustments on the fly. You don’t really get that time to lock into it because you’re out there every day.”"
He’s made some adjustments, to be sure. But when you have guys like Tommy La Stella putting together solid at-bats, it’s hard to rationalize another swing-and-miss bat in the lineup. Still, that decision doesn’t come without issues. Milwaukee took advantage of La Stella in the infield multiple times during Sunday’s loss.
But that’s a discussion for another time. Back to Schwarber.
He struggles – badly – against left-handed pitchers. In 2017, he owns a .170 average against southpaws, far from what you’d like to see. But, at least to me, the big takeaway from Schwarber watching his team get steamrolled by a rival, is his positive attitude.
"“Last year was tough, not being able to go on the road. Luckily, I was able to be here. This year it’s been better … Now we hopefully do what we want to do, you learn from everything and you go forward.”"
Next: Cubs' chances for division crown fall sharply after sweep
It takes a lot to find a positive in a season filled with disappointment. But he does just that. And that is why Theo Epstein remains so high on Kyle Schwarber. And, to be frank, it’s pretty hard not to like this kid for that very reason.