After struggling on the Chicago Cubs' recent road trip, Kyle Schwarber is still in the team's lineup, but he's been dropped down the order in a big way.
Schwarber, who went 1-for-19 with five strikeouts as the Cubs were swept in both of their series on the West Coast, will bat seventh and play left field against the Cardinals on Friday afternoon.
Schwarber, who started the year as the Cubs’ lead-off hitter, was demoted from that role after an absolutely atrocious month of May. Schwarber had one of the worst batting averages in all of baseball, hitting just .120 for the month.
The decision by manager Joe Maddon to drop Schwarber in the order comes amidst criticism from fans and media alike, with some going even so far as to speculate that the slugging left fielder should be sent to the minor leagues to work out the issues that have crept up in his swing so far this season.
This move, perhaps more than anything, is an effort by the Cubs to keep Schwarber in the majors while he works through his swing issues. It’s likely that he’ll remain in a similar role to the one that he’s been employed in recently, where he only plays regularly against right-handed pitching, and hitting coach John Mailee will continue to work with him as he tries to figure out what’s been going wrong in his approach at the plate.
Needless to say, Schwarber is going to need to get things sorted out quickly. He’s only hitting .165 so far this season, with a paltry .286 on-base percentage. He does have eight home runs and 19 RBI, but he’s been an offensive liability overall, and with his defense being below average for an outfielder, he needs to hit in order to be an everyday player in the Cubs’ lineup.
If Schwarber can’t get things sorted out, then the Cubs are going to have to at least entertain the possibility of sending him down. That move seemed to work in 2015 after his initial stint in the majors, and Schwarber came back firing, as he hit 16 home runs in just 273 plate appearances for the eventual wild card champion Cubs.