Not unlike when Kris Bryant was called up and immediately tasked with batting cleanup (and soon thereafter tasked with pitching in some time in the outfield), Kyle Schwarber is immediately being put into a very important role.
Well, several, actually. Here’s tonight’s lineup:
1. Dexter Fowler, CF
2. Kyle Schwarber, C
3. Kris Bryant, 3B
4. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
5. Jorge Soler, RF
6. Chris Coghlan, LF
7. Starlin Castro, SS
8. Kyle Hendricks, P
9. Addison Russell, 2B
Schwarber will not only be starting at catcher for the first time in the big leagues tonight – he did catch an inning in his previous call-up – but he’ll also be batting in what many believe is the most important spot in the lineup.
But I like it.
Not only does Schwarber, by all accounts, have the makeup to handle this kind of thing, he’s also got what figures to be a pretty potent bat. Why not use it in the middle of the other potent bats? With Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo lurking behind, Schwarber figures to see plenty of hittable pitches, and perhaps his discipline can shine.
I also like that Starlin Castro has finally been moved to the seven spot, just ahead of the pitcher. No, it’s not a perfect fit for a guy who prefers to swing aggressively and can make contact with almost anything, but for too long Castro’s offensive struggles were doing significant damage to the offense. He’ll still need to break back out for the Cubs’ offense to be humming at full capacity, but at least in the seven hole, if his struggles persist, he could have fewer opportunities to scuttle rallies. Maybe that seems harsh, but it’s where things are right now. Hopefully batting in front of the pitcher forces … well, something. Anything.
The big thing for tonight, though: how will Schwarber look behind the plate? How well will he work with Kyle Hendricks? How well will he frame?
That stuff is actually really exciting to get to see, even if I’m a little nervous.