The Rundown Lite: Schwarber’s a Cold-Blooded Assassin, Maddon Defends Darvish, Machado Rumors

Mike’s still on sick leave, so I’m back on the beat once again. His absence is turning into the Kris Bryant situation, but I always prefer to err on the side of caution. Despite clearing the concussion protocol and traveling on the team charter to Cleveland, KB has been out of the lineup since getting hit in the head by a German Marquez fastball.

It was reported yesterday that the Cubs were waiting on a green light from team doctors, which they presumably got yesterday. Bryant was on the field for live BP prior to Thursday’s game and Joe Maddon said his superstar might have been available should the Cubs need him. In the end, Bryant remained on the bench during the 1-0 win.

I can’t speak for the player himself and I don’t pretend to know anything about what he’s feeling, but I’d guess the mental side of things might be even more important than the physical aspects of getting back out there. Taking a 96 mph heater to the dome could have anyone shook, even a player with the most steadfast intestinal fortitude. Bryant is certainly among those players and has borne the burden of hype with grace and aplomb since his college days.

I’ve been critical in the past of the Cubs’ apparent willingness to allow their players to jump right back into action too soon after minor injuries. As such, I’m glad to see them erring more on the side of caution. Bryant’s physical and mental well-being are far more important than any competitive advantage gained by getting him back in the lineup.

All that said, I fully expect to see him in there this afternoon.

Schwarber deadpans his contribution

For all the loud noises he makes at the plate, Kyle Schwarber is a quiet dude when he’s standing in the middle of a media scrum. That’s not as much being bashful as it is being super confident and humble. Schwarber doesn’t care that he provided the only run of Thursday’s game with a blistered homer that once again put fans in the outfield at risk.

Here’s what he had to say about it afterwards, though you may have to turn up the volume to hear him (video via Jesse Rogers):

Maddon on Darvish

“This concept that [Darvish] doesn’t compete is absolutely fabricated and false,” Maddon told the media (subscription required) prior to Thursday’s game.” This guy is one of the best pitchers in the world. How could you ever arrive at that point — not in the United States, in the world — if you don’t compete?”

Ed. note: In the interest of full disclosure, we have a partnership with The Athletic that pays us a small commission each time someone subscribes through us. However, that’s not why I link to them so frequently. First, they employ both Patrick Mooney (source of quote above) and Sahadev Sharma, perhaps the two best writers on the Cubs beat and gentleman I’m proud to call friends. They’ve also got a ton of other great content covering almost every team and sport in a growing number of cities.

Back to Darvish, who Maddon says needs to get more “slow down moments” during the course of his starts. That makes a ton of sense when you look at how his outings have gone so far this season. It appears as though he’s cruising along and then there’s this abomination of an inning in which he just can’t find it.

Come to think of it, that’s a lot like what we saw from Jake Arrieta last year. You could just see the wheels falling off and he seemed to double down on the same old stuff rather than shaking free from the suck that had engulfed him. The hope is that Darvish is able to recalibrate and avoid those rough patches moving forward, something that familiarity and time should help with.

I have to think the warm weather will help a little bit as well. Darvish has spent his whole MLB career pitching in Arlington and LA, places where you didn’t need to worry much about having games snowed out. And let’s not forget that Jon Lester wasn’t the most consistent performer during his first season with the Cubs. There’s a lot of pressure on a guy to come in and assume that ace role with a big free agent deal.

Perhaps Friday will be the start of a turnaround for Darvish.

Quick notes

  • The Manny Machado rumors are still in full force, so I took a look at why the Cubs might be willing to deal for the Orioles star
  • MLB Pipeline released their top 100 draft prospects
  • The Cubs are now 4-1 against the Brewers in home games
  • Schwarber has already generated 0.9 fWAR through 83 plate appearances; he posted 1.6 in 486 PA’s last year

For your viewing pleasure

When it comes to Schwarber and his changes, take a look at this showcase video from his senior year of high school. The swing has definitely undergone some tweaks, and that throwing motion from behind the plate…whoa.

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