The Kyle Schwarber platoon is latest poor decision by Chicago Cubs Manager Joe Maddon.
Not much more needs to be said about the Cubs left fielder and his woes at the plate this season. Suffice it to say, his slash line of .178/.298/.350 and resultant 73 OPS+ do not befit the man lovingly called “Baby Ruth” by some Cubs fans.
Enter Chicago Tribune beat writer Mark Gonzales, quoting Joe Maddon on his decision to move the struggling slugger to a platoon role, where he will not bat against left-handed pitchers:
"“I can’t avoid it,” Maddon said Friday night as Schwarber was on the bench against Dodgers left-hander Alex Wood. “I’m saying I’m going to do that until I feel good about him because I don’t want to lay too many at-bats on him in a negative situation.”"
Simply put, making Kyle Schwarber a platoon player is a bad idea, the latest in a series of bad ideas concerning handling Schwarber amidst his struggles.
Indeed, if the goal is to lead Schwarber out of the darkness of offensive ineptitude and into the light of mashing dingers, he doesn’t deserve fewer chances at the plate to work through his struggles, be they mental or physical. He needs more chances, just at a different level of competition, say, AAA.
I have said that Kyle Schwarber needs to be batting last for the Chicago Cubs, and while his struggles continue, and he remains on the Cubs MLB roster, that remains a true statement. However, the best thing for Kyle Schwarber–who went 0-for-3 with a walk Saturday night against the Dodgers before being limited to pinch-hit duty on Sunday–as well as the Cubs, is for him to work on his issues in the minors.
Consequently, artificially limiting his plate appearances by batting him only against right-handers is unlikely to help much in the near term. Against righties, Schwarber has a batting line of .186/.295/.372. He actually makes more outs against right-handed pitchers than he does left-handed ones, against whom his line is .147/.310/.265.
The Chicago Cubs should know what is wrong with Schwarber, be it a mechanical defect, a mental block, or whatever else, they are in a position to know. What we can glean as fans, though, is what the problem decidedly is not: left-handed pitching. Something else is at work here.
Additionally, according to the CBA, Article XIX-C, available to the Cubs now is the 10-day disabled list, which would allow a rehab stint in the minor leagues without exercising a valuable option on Schwarber’s contract. That makes for 10 days laying on a beach somewhere, and two weeks or so clobbering minor league pitching to get into the proper head space. The Cubs, and Kyle Schwarber, need it.