Chicago Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber is leading the offense as the team tries to find its way without two of its biggest offensive weapons.
My family caught the Chicago Cubs in the City of Angels last season and watched the club win the series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Even though I was heckling Dodgers outfielder Kike Rodriguez pretty hard in left field, there was one Dodgers fan who had me beat with his constant barrage of attacks against our left fielder, Kyle Schwarber.
“They should never have brought you back,” the heckler yelled. “Go back to Triple-A Schwarber, you has-been.”
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Those same fastballs that the Dodgers took advantage of back in the 2017 NLCS against the Cubs and throughout last season are now being owned by Schwarber on his trips to the plate.
The slimmed-down left fielder really shut up the critics of his offense when he recently crushed a 442-foot grand slam against the Milwaukee Brewers. If Schwarber has truly found his swing, then the high fastball problems are no longer an issue and just in time.
"“If they can’t go there no more (with the elevated fastball), heads up,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon told reporters after the game."
Except for the fact, Maddon, no one was listening.
The first game of the very next series against the Cincinnati Reds, the kid from Middletown, Ohio hit his fifth homer in his last nine outings versus his hometown club. The three-run homer turned out to be Schwarber’s 18th in his career against the Reds.
During the second game against the Reds, the Cubs on-air broadcast talent discussed Schwarber’s transformation. This time it wasn’t his body, but his swing that has changed and made such an impact on the Cubs at a crucial time of the season.
The broadcast team remarked that Schwarber said himself he is really trying to get up there and make something happen and it’s not easy but he is watching pitchers very closely and examining everything to get a hit and thew results are: he’s hitting it everywhere in the park and more importantly getting on base with a .325 OBP, .515 SLG and a .840 OPS.
Some fans say its the way Maddon plays Schwarber that has made him so good of late. Playing him against opposite handed pitchers or changing him in the lineup so he’s getting complimentary batters around him. To me, that’s just regular manager stuff and a hot bat, is a hot bat.
With the loss of Rizzo, more than any other Cub, Schwarber has taken the challenge and accepted the mantle left by the three-time All-Star and has been a hitting machine. The only guy even coming close to pounding the ball like Schwarber is fellow outfielder Nicholas Castellanos.
A few weeks ago, I called the duo of Schwarber and Castellanos, “Schwarbellanos” which wasn’t a bad call seeing how these two guys are still pounding the ball between themselves. If Schwarber can keep rolling during the two upcoming series against the St. Louis Cardinals, maybe Maddon’s “heads up” was really a big fat warning or mercy-message to all comers.
Either way, those heckler’s words from Los Angeles were on my mind as I watched Schwarber hit his career-high 37th homer and 88 RBI against the Reds. How wrong you were, L.A. fan.