TODAY: Schwarber has officially been added to the Cubs’ World Series roster. He’ll take the roster spot that had been occupied by reliever Rob Zastryzny in the NLCS.
YESTERDAY: The Cubs appear to have a fascinating new addition to their postseason run, as several reports suggest that slugger Kyle Schwarber is likely to be activated for the World Series after missing the vast majority of the season due to torn knee ligaments. “All signs” are that he’ll be activated, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets, with Jon Heyman of Fan Rag later adding that Schwarber is expected to make his triumphant return “barring something unforeseen.”
That possibility has been known for several days, with its plausibility increasing as Schwarber gets his cuts in during Arizona Fall League action. Chicago has said it would utilize its narrow window to evaluate him and assess whether to place him on the World Series roster. It’s a high-stakes decision: the 23-year-old slugger may not be ready to play much (if at all) in the field, he can’t be replaced on the roster if he suffers an aggravation of his knee problem, and he hasn’t played much since the early-April outfield collision that ended his regular season.
Still, it’s hard to deny the upside that comes in Schwarber’s bat. Selected fourth overall in the 2014 draft, he sped through the minors and debuted in the middle of 2015. The lefty swinging spark plug slashed .246/.355/.487 and swatted 16 home runs over 273 plate appearances on the year. And though he committed some notable defensive gaffes in the 2015 postseason, Schwarber rose to the occasion at the plate. In his 31 plate appearances, he recorded a 1.308 OPS with five dingers.
The Cubs have left no stone unturned in their quest to finally bring a championship back to Chicago, and calling upon Schwarber now would represent perhaps the most dramatic move yet. He’d presumably suit up as the team’s designated hitter and otherwise function as a bench bat, representing a somewhat limited role — but one that has added value since four of the possible seven games will be played under the American League rules. That the move is even being considered is testament both to Schwarber’s hard work and the front office’s faith in him. If it indeed occurs, it’ll add yet more drama to an already-highly-anticipated series.