By: Alex Patt
Kyle Schwarber, who was sent down a few weeks ago after struggling at the plate, has returned to Chicago. The 24-year old slugger was just batting .171 with a .673 OPS and 75 Ks in 64 games when he was demoted to AAA Iowa to “get right.” He made the most of his time in Iowa as he put up a .343/.477/1.192 slash with four homers in 11 games.
Yeah, it was against AAA pitching which is not near the caliber of MLB pitching but hopefully it straightened his head a little and got his confidence back. As previously mentioned he still was walking a lot and had a good eye at the plate, he just was not making contact at pitches in the zone at a desirable rate hence the strikeouts and weak contact. Only time will tell if this stint in AAA was really good for him or not but it is obvious that Schwarber was willing to do anything to get himself right.
In his return to the bigs, he is slated in the five spot in the order. He is neither all the way at the bottom or leading off, despite the fact that Joe Maddon still sees him as a lead off guy at some point. It is a good place to put him, between cleanup and lower part of the order as the pressure is pretty balanced so to speak. He does not have to worry about getting on base to start, clean up right away or be down in the order knowing you are hitting around the pitcher spot. If he shows improvement, do not be surprised if he is moved to four or possibly lead off again. Maddon is the kind of order shuffles after all.
If he does struggle then you probably see him moved down again but hopefully it will not come to that. It would likely be fair to say that Schwarber’s potential improvements will include a higher contact and line-drive rate that generate more hits. His approach probably will not change too much seeing as he still draws walks and does not often chase bad pitches, it is just a matter of making more contact at pitches in the zone.
For his sake and the Cubs sake, hope he goes on a tear in his return.