Chicago Cubs: Kyle Schwarber has a fine October track record
Chicago Cubs’ slugger Kyle Schwarber is in a comfortable place heading into October. For this past month of September, but also past October glory.
The Chicago Cubs begin their title defense Friday against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park, and there is one hitter, in particular, that has been red-hot as the postseason nears.
Kyle Schwarber is coming off one of his best months of any in his short career. In 59 September at-bats, Schwarber slashed .288/.344/.610 and had an OPS of .954. It is encouraging to see the tumultuous regular-season end on a high note for the 24-year-old.
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If you go back further, since his return date from the minors, July, 6, Schwarber has been more than just serviceable, hitting .255 with 18 home runs, 31 RBI and a .903 OPS in 65 games.
I’ve written about Schwarber a couple of times, first when he was struggling, and then his second-half revival at the beginning of September.
Over his last 15 games, Schwarber has gone 13-for-44 (.295) with five long balls.
Been here before
If you, or Schwarber, need to look back on past-October glory, he has some of that as the already-postseason leader in Cubs history for home runs.
From the shot that sunk the Cardinals in Game 4 of the 2015 LDS, to his out-of-bed World Series performance against the Indians.
At the same time, none of that really matters, and Schwarber talked about it recently. “It could be an anomaly,” said Schwarber referencing previous October heroics.
"“I try to go out there with the same focus. To keep trying to do something for my team to help them win. It’s a good feeling, especially this time of year, when you can go out and do it.”"
Manager Joe Maddon talked about Schwarber’s resurgence.
"“He’s already trying to choke up (on the bat). I don’t know if you’ve noticed it from up top. He’s trying to do different things in counts right now. I’m starting to see some progress with that.”"
Depending on lineups and scenarios, the potential looms of facing three of the games’ best this season in Max Scherzer (16-6, 2.51 ERA), Stephen Strasburg (15-4, 2.52 ERA), and Gio Gonzalez (15-9, 2.96 ERA), each of whom he has yet to face in his career.
If Schwarber is available off the bench, that’s a big homer threat late in a game. Something the Nationals will have to consider.
Schwarber’s only games against the Nationals occurred this season, back in August at Wrigley, as he went 2-for-7. Each hit was explosive as he ripped a double and home run.
It doesn’t matter, but it does
While the Cubs are synonymous with past postseason juju, or that in-your-head stuff, whatever you want to call it, so, too, are the Nationals for what it’s worth as they seek their first trip to the NLCS.
In 14 career playoff games over the last two seasons, Schwarber is 16-for-44 while slashing .364/.451/.727 and 1.178 OPS. The past five games in last year’s World Series.
Friday begins an interesting dynamic for a hitter who has seemingly been to hell in back, really dating back to last season and his season-threatening injury.
Then his World Series performance which likely spurred any and all offseason hype for a hitter entering still just his first full season. Regardless of the fact he came off major knee surgery.
Maddon shares this sentiment.
"“Give the guy real high marks for perseverance. I think maybe my expectations that I portrayed early on were maybe a little bit too high and I should have considered maybe more that he did not play at all last year. When you talk about [him], you don’t even think about that. You just think about postseason.”"
Next: Chicago Cubs: Scherzer’s injury could play huge role in NLDS outcome
With the start of the Cubs’ postseason quest just days away, there’s lots of recent good history to think back on.
Isn’t that a nice change of pace from before the Schwarber-era.