Welcome to Schwarbtober: When Kyle Schwarber says ‘Watch this, America’

Tap, tap, tap. Hello, is this thing on? Yes? OK, then. Attention, boys and girls. It’s October, and this is when Kyle Schwarber usually announces himself.
 
I mean, just look: a .727 slugging percentage and 1.178 on-base-plus-slugging percentage lifetime in the playoffs. In his only National League Division Series, he slugged 1.100 with an OPS of 1.683. And then there was that fairy-tale .471 slugging percentage and .971 OPS in last year’s World Series, including igniting the winning rally after his miraculous return from knee surgery after he was injured a couple of games into the 2016 season.
 
Schwarbtober turns into Schwarbvember turns into Schwarbapalooza.
 
It’s what he does at this time of year, but by the way, did you see what Schwarber did during this season? Schwarber wound up with 30 home runs, is what he did.
 
Despite Joe Maddon’s stubborn insistence on batting him leadoff. Despite a demotion to the minors. Despite a near blackout of using him against left-handers.
 
Thirty homers from that guy. That’s as shocking as the Jose Quintana trade that nobody saw coming, and for the longest time that included the Cubs.
 
When he was sent down near the end of June, Schwarber was slugging just .378 with an OPS of .673.
 
World Series hero nothing.
 
But look at that: Upon returning to the lineup on July 6, Schwarber hit 18 of his 30 homers in 65 games, slugging .565 with an OPS of .903.
 
And now it’s October. It’s Schwarbtober. If past is prologue, then those previous numbers are nothing. Schwarber was just clearing his throat.
 
Nationals star Bryce Harper came back from an injury to slug just .071 in four games in September. He hasn’t homered since Aug. 7. Advantage, Cubs. But then, Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt had been 0-for-17 when he pounded a three-run homer in the first inning of the wild-card game Wednesday. Some guys just have a way of re-introducing themselves in October. See above.

Maddon announced the Cubs’ rotation for the NLDS: Kyle Hendricks for Game 1 on Friday, Jon Lester for Game 2 on Saturday, Quintana for Game 3 on Monday, and Jake Arrieta for Game 4 on Tuesday, if necessary. So, there it is: Monday night will pit Quintana against Mitch Trubisky.
 
I’m not wild about Hendricks’ career 4.35 ERA and 1.548 WHIP in Nationals Park.
 
Ditto, Arrieta’s career 5.48 ERA and 1.674 WHIP against the Nationals.
 
Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer showed why you draft and trade for shortstops and play them all over the field: so you have a shortstop handy when an Addison Russell gets hurt. During the six weeks that Russell was disabled, Javy Baez slugged .503 with an OPS of .843, and the Cubs gained 2½ games in the standings. No, it wasn’t all Baez. But it wouldn’t have happened if the Cubs’ only other option was Mike Freeman.
 
The Nationals are the big regular-season winners who can’t win a playoff series. Their manager has earned many playoff berths but never won his last game. This ought to be a hoot.
 
Dusty Baker, the Nationals manager who stood in the Cubs dugout --- and stood in the Cubs dugout and stood in the Cubs dugout – when Luis Castillo hit that foul ball in the eighth inning of Game 6 against the Marlins in 2003, told Tribune baseball swami Paul Sullivan that he believes in karma. Let that be a lesson to all you young ballplayers out there: Don’t go shopping at the karma outlet store.
 
Baker says this series against the Cubs is personal. Sounds like a White Sox fan, no?
 
Just trolling now: Sox fans, who ya got if it’s Quintana vs. Chris Sale in the World Series?
 
Aw geez, another playoff series against that Daniel Murphy character?
 
Any chance Maddon goes to Wade Davis in a high-leverage spot such as bases loaded and none out in a tie game in the sixth inning?
 
If the Cubs put Justin Wilson on the playoff roster, they’d better extend the protective netting around Maddon.
 
And in front of bleacher fans.
 
John Lackey is expected to be in the Cubs bullpen for the NLDS. Does that put him closer or further from the next beer?
 
The last time Washington's team won a postseason series, Walter “Big Train’’ Johnson pitched four innings of relief to win Game 7 of the 1924 World Series in 12 innings.
 
What’s up, Barry Foote?

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