In 2015, Kyle Schwarber played in 69 regular-season games. He hit .246/.355/.487 with six doubles, a triple, 16 home runs, 36 walks and 77 strikeouts in 232 at-bats.
Kyle had a rough time for the first couple of months of 2017 and was sent to Triple-A Iowa to work on fixing whatever was wrong.
Since his return, he’s hit .244/.337/.538 with five doubles, a triple, 13 home runs, 20 walks and 59 strikeouts in 156 at-bats.
Those two sets of numbers are close enough that we could draw the conclusion that this is what Kyle Schwarber is going to be: a hitter with a middling batting average, a decent OBP and a SLG that’s going to hover within 20-30 points of .500, which is a pretty good slugging percentage (that .538 SLG would rank 11th in the National League if Kyle had enough at-bats to qualify).
So the question is: Why didn’t Kyle start any of the three games against three Brewers righthanders over the weekend? He entered Saturday’s game after it reached blowout status and homered.
Here’s what Joe Maddon said about Kyle’s lack of playing time over the weekend:
Schwarber's reserved seat on the bench, though, has everything to do with matchups and not as much to do with numbers, Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.
"It's not June or July," Maddon said. "It's September. Tommy (La Stella's) been pertinent to us. (Ian) Happ's been swinging the bat.
"It's not just about Kyle; it's about everybody."
Well... I guess, but if you’re not going to start Schwarber against the righthanded pitching of the team chasing you in the division race, when are you going to start him? Is he now nothing more than a bench player? The Mets will be throwing three righthanders against the Cubs, and you’d think Kyle would start those games, especially since he hit this monster home run [VIDEO] off one of those starters, Matt Harvey, last June in Citi Field:
Look how high and far that ball went!
I’m well aware of Kyle’s limitations and I’m sure Joe is too. He’s not a very good outfielder and has produced -1.2 bWAR defensively this year, which has reduced his overall bWAR to the negative side (-0.3). I would have thought he’d be a pinch-hitter in Sunday’s game in the ninth inning, representing the tying run, instead of Alex Avila. That’s no slight meant to Avila, who’s a good hitter. I just thought at the time, Schwarber had the best chance of hitting the ball out of the ballpark to tie the game.
Still. Since August 14, Kyle is hitting .246/.350/.522 (17-for-69) with six home runs. Yes, with 21 strikeouts. As I noted above, that appears to be who he’s going to be: a big strikeout guy whose batting average hovers near .250, with a good OBP and a lot of power.
You’d think the Cubs would want that power in the lineup. We’ll see, starting tonight against the Mets.