On night Ben Zobrist and Willson Contreras return, Kyle Schwarber shows how deep Cubs lineup can be

On night Ben Zobrist and Willson Contreras return, Kyle Schwarber shows how deep Cubs lineup can be

Hours before Tuesday’s 6-1 win over the Mariners, the Cubs scratched Kris Bryant from the starting lineup due to right knee soreness, an ailment that has bothered him since late-July.

The news was unfortunate for the Cubs, as it coincided with the returns of Ben Zobrist and Willson Contreras to the starting lineup for the first time since landing on the restricted and injured lists, respectively.

So, even with Zobrist and Contreras returning, the Cubs were unable to unleash a full-strength lineup for the first time in months (Javier Báez also sat due to a sore thumb). Cubs manager Joe Maddon’s response?

“We still have nine good names in the lineup regardless,” Maddon said pregame. “It’d have been nice to see what it looked like with everybody, but it just did not want to occur today.”

One player among those nine stood out amongst the rest, however: Kyle Schwarber.

With Bryant out, Schwarber slid up from fifth in the initial lineup to second. The Cubs left fielder finished the night a stellar 3-for-3, finishing a triple shy of the cycle while also drawing a walk. Despite his impressive night, Schwarber was quick to point out the impact Zobrist and Contreras had on the lineup.

“It was great having Zo, and obviously Contreras back, too,” Schwarber said. “Benny at the top of the lineup, seeing a lot of pitches up there and Contreras having a lot of good at-bats, with the home run there.

“Being able to have those two guys back, it’s definitely a good thing.”

On paper, it’s obvious what the returns of Zobrist and Contreras mean to the Cubs. Once Báez and Bryant return to the lineup – which could come as soon as Thursday’s series opener against the Brewers – the Cubs can roll out a starting group capable of doing damage at every position, sans the pitcher’s spot.

Now in his fifth MLB season, Schwarber is no forgotten man on the Cubs roster. However, he can get lost in the shuffle on a team that has many big names, from Bryant to Báez to Anthony Rizzo to Jon Lester and others.

What also can get lost in the shuffle is what Schwarber has been doing offensively over the last few weeks.

In his last 15 games, Schwarber holds a .313/.400/.750 slashline, hitting five home runs over that stretch. He’s in some kind of rhythm right now, which he agreed is part of his recent offensive success

“Yeah, it’s a part of it,” he said. “Just being able to have good rhythm out there but also being able to get the barrel to the ball. Whenever I can do that, it’s going to come off pretty hot and I’ll take it, if it’s on the ground or in the air.”

It came via the latter in one at-bat Tuesday.

Schwarber hit second on Tuesday, though it’s unlikely he remains there as the season winds down. The returns of the aforementioned players will bump him down in the lineup, and for the Cubs, that could pay huge dividends. Not many teams have a 30+ home run guy hitting in the 6-8 holes, let alone one who has great strike zone judgement.

Where he hits isn’t something Schwarber hangs his hat on – he said postgame “wherever I hit, I hit.” The same can be said about reaching the 40-home run plateau, which he’s within shouting distance of.

“I’m not going to look that far. I think I’m just [going to] take it day-by-day,” he said. “We’re in a big spot here. Just try to take it day-by-day, try to get a win every day.

“If you keep continually doing things to help the team win, good things will happen.”

Schwarber is doing a lot of good things offensively right now. Should that continue, the Cubs offense will reap the rewards.

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Cardinals great Jim Edmonds announces that he's tested positive for COVID-19 virus

Cardinals great Jim Edmonds announces that he's tested positive for COVID-19 virus

Late on Wednesday night, Jim Edmonds went on Instagram and announced that he's tested positive for COVID-19

"... I appreciate everyone who has said well wishes and wished me the best. I did test positive for pneumonia, and I did get a positive test back for the [COVID-19] virus. I am completely symptom free now and doing really well ..."

Earlier in the week, Edmonds posted a picture from the hospital: 

Now home from the hospital, Edmonds goes on to stress the importance of flattening the curve. "Do not take this lightly," he said. "If you do not feel good, go to the doctor. Go to the emergency room if you can't breathe." 

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Jason Kipnis' concerns about the quality of baseball upon return

USA Today

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Jason Kipnis' concerns about the quality of baseball upon return

David Haugh, Charlie Roumeliotis and Adam Hoge join Kap on the panel.

0:45 - Nick Foles is officially a Chicago Bear. Over/under 10.5 starts for him next season.

3:36 - The Cubs' Jason Kipnis takes to Instagram to talk about the quality of baseball if it returns this season. Do fans care what the game looks like or do they just want to watch sports no matter what?

6:37 - ESPN's fan vote crowned Michael Jordan as the greatest college basketball player of all-time. He beat Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Kap says MJ is the GOAT but he may not be college hoops' all-time top 5.

8:20 - The guys debate which dunk on Patrick Ewing was the best in Bulls history: Scottie's or Michael's. And they preview the next installment of Bulls Classics- Game 1 of the 1996 East Finals against Shaq and the Magic.

12:08- NBC Sports' national NBA insider Tom Haberstroh joins Kap. Could the NBA resume with teams playing neutral-site games? Tom also explains how the league's social significance will affect its decision when to return and he discusses his favorite era in history.

Listen here or in the embedded player below. 

Sports Talk Live Podcast