Through the first four games of the season, Kyle Schwarber has raked to the tune of a .385/.429/.923 (232 wRC+) line. Hooray for small sample size fun, right!
Through those games, though, Schwarber has started twice (against righties), and sat twice (against lefties). It’s so early, but it certainly has the look of last year’s extreme platoon protection for a guy who has struggled against lefties in his young career, but has also never been given a full starter’s workload against them. As we saw with a young Anthony Rizzo, sometimes it takes facing a lot of lefties in the big league – and struggling against them – to really figure things out. Of course, at that time, the Cubs had a little more leeway on the competitiveness side of the ledger, so I do get that it’s a delicate balance.
To that end, some outside voices do believe it’s time to give Schwarber more of a look against lefties to see if he can start producing:
After seeing Schwarber's growth as a hitter following 2017 demotion and into this year — and his work to become a good LF — two rival scouts this week wondered why Schwarber isn't considered the Cubs' everyday left fielder. https://t.co/a4B8fp8haL
— Gordon Wittenmyer (@GDubCub) April 2, 2019
For his part, Joe Maddon concedes that being a full-time player could be in Schwarber’s future, based on how he looks right now (Sun-Times): “He’s showing a better way to not give in to the lefty. His whole stance and everything he’s doing is different. So I’m curious to see how this plays out …. [W]hat he’s doing right now can play against both sides.”
Perhaps the impetus to get Mark Zagunis some early at bats played a part in the two off-days against lefties early on? Perhaps the Cubs want to give Jason Heyward as many starts as possible because of his glove (because he could sit against a lefty, and thus allow Schwarber to say in left field, with someone like Kris Bryant or Ben Zobrist handling right that day)? Perhaps there was something peculiarly unique about THOSE two lefties that weren’t a good matchup for Schwarber, or were a great matchup for other guys?
That’s the thing about studying what a manager has done in just two games. It doesn’t necessarily tell you much, especially when the manager’s own words cut the other way.
I look forward to Schwarber getting some starts soon against lefties, as well as continuing to get the chance to face them later in games. Gotta learn, and the talent is there.
At least he’ll be in there tonight against righty Julio Teheran.