As far as comebacks go, Kyle Schwarber getting added to the World Series roster for the Chicago Cubs after suffering two torn ligaments in his knee in the season's third game is certainly more inspirational than Trevor Bauer returning from a self-inflicted drone mishap on his pinkie.
As if we need another storyline for this World Series.
When Schwarber tore up his knee after colliding with Dexter Fowler on April 7, he was declared out for the season. The initial hopes were that he'd be ready for spring training in 2017. Instead, after just a couple of games in the Arizona Fall League, he has replaced rookie pitcher Rob Zastryzny on the roster and will start at DH in Game 1 against Corey Kluber of the Cleveland Indians.
Hey, Kyle, we know you've barely swung a bat in six months and haven't faced any major league pitching, but you're going to start Game 1 of the World Series against one of the best pitchers in the sport. Watch out for that breaking ball with two strikes and go get 'em, kid."
It's obviously a risky move, given Schwarber's lack of game action. It does give the Cubs the benefit of another left-handed hitter -- as a DH option in the four possible games in Cleveland and as a pinch-hitter at Wrigley Field. Adding Schwarber gives Maddon the flexibility of starting Willson Contreras and Ben Zobrist in the outfield and using the struggling Jason Heyward (2-for-28 in the postseason) as a defensive replacement. With all the right-handers on the Cleveland staff -- Andrew Miller and Ryan Merritt are the lone left-handers -- there also doesn't appear to be much of a role for Jorge Soler. Schwarber, for example, may be a better pinch-hitting option against Cody Allen, who has a significant platoon split.
Losing Zastryzny probably isn't a big deal; he was added as a fourth lefty out of the bullpen in the National League Championship Series given all of the Dodgers' left-handed hitters, but didn't get into the series. A starter in the minors, the one potential negative about losing Zastryzny is if the starting pitcher gets knocked out early, the Cubs will have to burn Travis Wood, Justin Grimm or Mike Montgomery in long relief, perhaps shortening the bullpen a bit in the following game. There also is the concern if a game goes deep into extra innings that you're a man short in the bullpen, but Maddon could always turn to a starter in relief (John Lackey pitched an inning in relief in Game 4 for the Red Sox in the 2013 World Series and then started and won Game 6).
Given the strength of the rotation, a starter getting knocked out in the first three innings is remote anyway, and Montgomery, who started in September, is capable of multiple-inning stints, as in the Division Series against the Giants when he pitched four innings.
Of course, Schwarber could go 0-for-11, strike out six times and ground into two double plays and the Cubs lose in six and the decision will be criticized. But the Cubs think he can help or he wouldn't be here. At the minimum, he's going to give tough at-bats, maybe draw some walks and certainly present that fear that you can't leave a cookie over the middle of the plate.
There's something else in play here. Everyone loves this kid. Drafted in 2014, he ascended quickly to the majors and actually hit his first home run last June in Cleveland off Danny Salazar -- keep that potential matchup in mind, as Salazar has been added to the Indians' roster. Through his first 140 plate appearances he was hitting .311/.407/.613 with 10 home runs and the Cult of Kyle Schwarber was born. The fans loved the bat and the fact that, umm, he's big-boned. It didn't matter that over his final 133 PAs he hit .177, because in the playoffs he hit five more home runs, including that incredible moon shot in Game 4 of the Division Series:
He's back. pic.twitter.com/t3tbeKeWnk
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) October 25, 2016
When he went down in April, Theo Epstein said, "Everyone who knows Kyle was sick watching that play and the aftermath of that play. Just devastated for him. It's tough news. It's really devastating news, but we have to follow his example. In the wake of this injury, he's putting the team first."
Two days ago, Schwarber tweeted how excited he was for the team clinching the NL pennant:
Unbelievable! Can't put in word how excited I am for this team! #FlyTheW #Hellyeah
— Kyle Schwarber (@kschwarb12) October 23, 2016
Now he's back on the team. Can he help? Who knows, but you can certainly see why it's worth finding out.
Our editors found this article on this site using Google and regenerated it for our readers.
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