ATLANTA — For now, the Cubs would rather have veteran David Ross catch ace right-hander Jake Arrieta than rookie Kyle Schwarber.
That’s the case for Sunday’s series finale against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field, with Ross — who’s in his 14th major league season and caught Jon Lester's bizarre no-hit bid Saturday — behind the plate against All-Star right-hander Shelby Miller. On paper, the pitching matchup would seem to be one of the situations manager Joe Maddon said could get Schwarber into the lineup with Arrieta on the mound.
But it didn't happen Sunday, not three games into Schwarber's second stint in The Show.
“As Schwarber gets more comfortable, if the matchup is impressively bad and you’re more comfortable with Schwarber behind the plate, then you catch him with Arrieta,” Maddon said. “Just give it a chance to play out a little bit, that’s what I’m looking at.”
The 24-year-old Miller dominates right-handed hitters, holding them to a .190 batting average and .531 OPS with one home run through 18 starts entering Sunday. Left-handers have had considerably more success off Miller, hitting .265 with a .724 OPS and three home runs.
Ross, a right-handed hitter, has been better against right-handed pitching (.622 OPS vs. a .405 OPS off left-handers), though Sunday's game would seem like a good opportunity to get Schwarber’s left-handed bat in the lineup against a guy with a 2.38 ERA. But Schwarber will have to catch at least one of Arrieta’s between-starts side sessions before Maddon will consider playing him in a future situation like this.
While Schwarber didn’t start the final two games of the Braves series — after going 3-4 with a double Friday night — Maddon said he’ll have a chance to start the next three days in Cincinnati with Clayton Richard, Jason Hammel, Kyle Hendricks and a TBA call-up starting Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (a doubleheader).
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Beyond getting some work in with Arrieta, though, Maddon said Schwarber doesn’t have to show him anything to earn the added playing time. It’s more about Ross having 14 years of experience and Schwarber having played only eight games in the majors.
“That’s one of those things I don’t really worry about in a sense — I watch and try to pick out the right time to do it,” Maddon said. “You talk to Schwarbs, you watch him, you watch how he’s catching everybody else, what’s the comfort level look like. And then I’ll try to make a good call on it.”