(CBS) Thirteen games into the new season, the Cubs are having some struggles at 6-7, but manager Joe Maddon does really like one new development for his team.
Kyle Schwarber batting at the lead-off spot.
Maddon called the 24-year-old Schwarber’s transition to batting lead-off this season “outstanding.” Entering play Tuesday, Schwarber was hitting .240 with a .377 on-base percentage and .797 OPS, scoring seven runs in 13 games. Schwarber also has an ugly 36 percent strikeout rate in the early going.
It’s the .377 on-base percentage that Maddon primarily keeps his eye on, and Maddon emphasized he has no plans to move Schwarber down in the order anytime soon.
“He’s been getting on base,” Maddon said in an interview with Danny Parkins and Barry Rozner on 670 The Score on Tuesday afternoon. “And he’s had opportunities to drive in runs also. And then you have to consider the alternatives. What would you like to do instead of Schwarber hitting there? And then if you were to move Schwarber down, he’s already been walked several times with (Kris Bryant) behind him. How are they going to react to him if KB’s not hitting behind him with (Anthony) Rizzo behind that? There’s so many things to consider if you want to move him or not.
“I have no thought about (moving him down) whatsoever. Actually, I think he’s doing a great job.”
So what could possibly lead to Maddon dropping Schwarber in the order? Perhaps an outside force, Maddon said.
“Maybe the acquisition of another hitter at some point or if somebody got uber hot that you know that if you put him in front of that guy, that he would be protected,” Maddon said.
Maddon added he doesn’t like the idea of stacking the lefty-swinging Schwarber and Rizzo back-to-back because it can make it easier on opponents’ bullpens late in games. He prefers the alternating look that Schwarber-Bryant-Rizzo-Ben Zobrist-Addison Russell provides.
“So right now, you look at left-right-left-switch-right, I kind of like that, the way we have it set up,” Maddon said. “So to move (Schwarber in the order), it’d have to be either an acquisition of either a really legitimate lead-off hitter or somebody getting so hot down below that you felt comfortable about putting him in front of that guy.”
Listen to Maddon’s full interview below.