“If I Were the Manager…” Concerning Kyle Schwarber’s Health

With the dawn of Game 3 of the World Series, Joe Maddon announced that star young catcher, outfielder and power bat Kyle Schwarber will not be playing the field in this series. With the absence of a designated hitter in the National League, this means that Schwarber will be playing exclusively as a pinch hitter in Chicago, taking a big force out of the Cubs’ lineup.

Speaking as an avid baseball fan who had Kyle Schwarber on his fantasy team, it’s a shame that he cannot play because of the rules difference between the two leagues. One does have to take into consideration, though, that he is still not medically cleared to play on defense after the miracle recovery of his torn ACL. So, from this angle, it would be easy to argue that the DH should be implemented in the NL because of a few quirky situations and the clear loss of offensive firepower.

On the other hand, as a quasi-baseball purist, I am almost entirely opposed to the addition of the DH in National League parks. The NL game is the more pure of the two leagues, and I prefer to keep it as such, giving all nine players on the field equal opportunity to play at the plate, rather than bringing in a ringer to do the pitcher’s hitting for him.

But this segment isn’t about the rules of the game; it’s about the use of Kyle Schwarber for the Cubs, and I don’t think he should see the field at all in Wrigley. Bringing in a pinch hitter does not make an immense difference on the outcome of an at-bat, shown in the batting average for such plays (.209*) compared to the batting average for all other at-bats (.255*). With such a disparity in batting average, using a young player with frail, recovering knees to hit- once per game with an ever-so-slightly better chance of success and an almost equal chance of reinjury- is simply too risky with talent like Schwarber’s.

If I were the manager, Kyle Schwarber would be riding the pine for the next two games at Wrigley Field, ensuring that he is well-rested for the return of the series to Cleveland and to the designated hitter.

 

Think you know more than Joe Maddon and Terry Francona? Keep up with our “If I Were the Manager” series, in which writer Jacob Lintner provides his view on a key point in each game of the 2016 World Series, and let Jacob know how you feel about his suggestions on Twitter @FHNtoday or @TheJacobLintner.