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After Missing Entire Season with Torn ACL, Kyle Schwarber Is on Cubs’ World Series Roster and Hitting DH in Game 1
It’s not often that feel-good stories make you so nervous you want to puke. But if you’re a Cubs fan, that’s what we have for you here.
After missing 160 of 162 regular season game plus the NLDS and NLCS with a torn ACL, Kyle Schwarber is back. The Chicago Cubs have included the 23-year-old slugger on their World Series Roster, and according to Fox Sports’ Jon Morosi he’s expected to DH Game 1 in Cleveland on Tuesday night.
Schwarber became a Cubs legend last fall after mashing five home runs in nine postseason games, including a moon shot that landed on top of a Wrigley Field video board. However, Schwarber tore his ACL in a collision with center fielder Dexter Fowler on April 7, just three games into the regular season.
The initial prognosis had Schwarber returning for spring training in 2017. However, Cubs president Theo Epstein said his rehab is a whole month ahead of schedule. On Saturday, Schwarber was activated from the 60-day disabled list, and he immediately started taking at-bats in the Arizona Fall League. Now, after a three-day rehab assignment, Schwarber is on his way to Cleveland.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) October 24, 2016
This is a huge gamble for the Cubs. Schwarber is not completely healthy. His doctor has cleared him to hit but has forbidden any running beyond a home run trot. That means Scwarber will be limited to a DH role in Cleveland and a pinch-hitting role in Chicago, taking up a roster spot that could have gone to a more versatile player. It also means that, if he gets on base in a situation where he represents an important run, Cubs coach Joe Maddon will be forced to put in a pinch runner. So even if Schwarber can hit after missing 170 games—and that’s a big if—there’s still a tactical downside.
Then there’s this:
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) October 24, 2016
The Cubs aren’t exactly hurting without Kyle Schwarber. They racked up the best record in baseball and made it to their first World Series in 71 years without him.
Are the Cubs feeling so desperate that they are willing to take huge risks? Or are they so confident in themselves that they think they can afford to waste a roster spot on a part-time player?
If you’re a Cubs fan, you’ve got to be excited to have Schwarber back. But deep down you also have to wonder if this will be the way The Curse pulls the rug right out from under you.