Kyle Schwarber was one of the best stories in sports last year, returning from a season-long knee injury to rake as the Cubs DH in their World Series win.
His start to 2017 was a rough one, though, resulting in a demotion to the Triple-A Iowa Cubs a few weeks ago. Schwarber destroyed the minor leagues, hitting .344/.477/.713, with 4 homers in 11 games. That was enough for the Cubs to recall him back to the bigs, having apparently seen the improvements they were looking to see:
Cubs president Theo Epstein said Schwarber’s time in the minors was “more of a reset than a rebuilding” and that he looked better at the plate after hitting .171 in 64 games before being sent down.
“He was using the whole field more,” Epstein said. “His last swing, he drove a ball off the wall in left-center. Kind of a classic Schwarber swing. He’s ready to go.”
Theo Epstein might be good at this baseball stuff, because here’s what Schwarber did tonight:
MAKE 'EM DANCE!
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) July 9, 2017
As you can see, that launched the bullpen into a dance party, but it seems more likely that the Cubs front office (and weirdly angst-filled fan base) are dancing, imagining what a true-talent Kyle Schwarber can do for the struggling Cubs lineup down the stretch of the season.
Joe Maddon’s experiment batting Schwarber leadoff may have contributed to some of the sluggers struggles; in a vacuum, of course, it makes sense, as someone with Schwarber’s offensive profile is valuable at the top of a lineup. but players don’t play in a vacuum; Schwarber seemed a bit more tentative, getting caught in between too often. That swing was anything but tentative, and as the Cubs are going to enter the All Star Break trailing in the NL Central, they need more of that. (Including tonight’s game, which they trail 4-2.)
If all Schwarber had to fix was his confidence, bombs like that one should certainly help.