(CBS) Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber has rediscovered a much better form since a stint at Triple-A Iowa to work on his game amid season-long struggles, responding by hitting .250 with a .940 OPS in July at the big league level.
One of the lefty-swinging Schwarber’s weaknesses has been hitting against left-handed pitching. He’s hit .154 with a .580 OPS against lefties in his big league career. Cubs manager Joe Maddon has sometimes sat Schwarber against lefties, as he only has 75 such plate appearances this season, in which he’s hit .164 with a .664 OPS.
So as the Cubs chase an NL Central crown and eye the postseason, just how big of a role should we expect the 24-year-old Schwarber to have against lefties? It’s worth noting the MLB-leading Dodgers — looming as a potential matchup for the Cubs in the National League Championship Series — boast three talented lefty starters.
“It’s a great question, and where we are in the season and the fact that we’re in a pennant race, I think Joe is very much going to look for the best matchups, look for the best time to play everybody,” general manager Jed Hoyer said of Schwarber’s role in an interview on the Mully and Hanley Show on 670 The Score on Tuesday morning.
“We have a deep roster. I think Joe has said on record that he’s had a lot of challenges with trying to figure out how to play all the guys because you want to make sure you keep guys happy. You want to make sure you keep guys fresh. But I think ultimately, that’s a good problem. I think where we are at in the season, you can’t think too much about development. I think you have to think about winning games. But in general, I think Kyle is very much like Anthony — he had some struggles early in his career hitting lefties. I have no question that over the long haul this guy is going to have no problem with left-handed pitching, and I think he’ll be a guy that you don’t worry about those platoon splits long term.”
Listen to Hoyer’s full interview below.