Cubs will utilize Kyle Schwarber as designated hitter and in the outfield
Whether it’s in the outfield or as the Cubs DH, Kyle Schwarber is a key in 2020.
Much has been made about the designated hitter coming to the National League. It’s been a talking point internally for teams as they decide whether to regularly rotate guys out of the spot or assign it to one player. For their part, though, the Cubs have a willing taker for the job in Kyle Schwarber.
According to MLB.com, Schwarber will see time as the team’s designated hitter – but the role will be shared by several players on the team, something the slugging outfielder is OK with.
"“The conversations have been good,” Schwarber said. “Really good open communication about, ‘Hey, you’re going to play left some days and you’re going to be DHing, too.’ It’s just the way it is and trust me, I’m all for whatever he wants me to do. I’m just happy for the open communication that he’s had with me.”"
Schwarber has been perceived as the “prototypical DH” ever since he arrived in Chicago, given his size and power abilities. However, he has proven himself a capable defensive player in left field even as his power keeps developing. In 2019, Schwarber walloped a career-high 38 home runs, and it could be assumed he would have touched that or surpassed that mark in a full 2020 season.
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The news that Schwarber is willing to be the DH can be seen as a positive, because there are some players who just don’t want to do it. Former Cub Nick Castellanos, who signed with the Cincinnati Reds in the off season, has said that he prefers not to DH. The designated hitter role is not for everybody and this doesn’t make Castellanos a bad teammate. For some players, they might feel like it takes them out of their rhythm or routine. For others, they may feel like they aren’t contributing enough. Every player is different.
It’s refreshing to see Schwarber be willing to take on the role and give the Cubs an additional option. The typical DH makeup is a player that hits for a lot of power, and Schwarber certainly fits that bill. There is no doubt he will see time at the spot; now rather, the question is just how often we’ll see him as the designated hitter.
On the roster, the guy that seems the most likely to DH the most is Steven Souza Jr. He has a 30-home run season under his belt, but has had trouble staying healthy over the course of his short career. Souza being the everyday DH may perhaps unlock some of the old power and give him a better chance of staying healthy. If the Cubs can find something in Souza even for a short season, that makes them so much more well-rounded and dangerous as a unit.
In a shortened season, it’s going to take contributions from unexpected players to go far, and a fast start is imperative, as divisions can probably be won within the first month. The Cubs have the luxury of having a roster they can experiment with and move guys around defensively. The DH isn’t a complicated role, but make no mistake – it’ll be a critical one.