Report: Kyle Schwarber likely to catch games started by Jason Hammel
Mark Gonzales reported that Joe Maddon indicated Wednesday Kyle Schwarber “is more likely to start at catcher in games Jason Hammel starts rather than those featuring Kyle Hendricks.” Maddon said, “They seem to work well together.”
Hammel is scheduled to start Thursday’s Cactus League game against the Diamondbacks and Schwarber is in the starting lineup behind the plate. Schwarber caught Hammel’s spring debut on March 7 but was unavailable his last time out against the White Sox. Schwarber hurt his left knee two days before the exhibition game.
Another reason is playing time and Schwarber catching a starter every five days would help keep Miguel Montero fresh. Montero will catch on the days Jake Arrieta and John Lackey pitches. Montero will also be behind the plate for Kyle Hendricks. David Ross will catch Jon Lester every five days.
Ken Rosenthal explained the Cubs plan to “get at least 450 plate appearances for all four of their top outfielders, if everyone stays healthy.” And Schwarber catching once every five days is part of the equation.
Using Schwarber as one starter’s catcher will give another outfielder, Jorge Soler for instance, at least 30 games to start in left field. The Cubs will need a designated hitter for the 10 games they play in American League parks this season. Dexter Fowler, who hits better from the right-side, could sit against certain right-handed starters. Jason Heyward could get a break on the days the Cubs are facing a lefty that Heyward hasn’t fared well against in his career.
It will be interesting to see if the Cubs pair Schwarber with Adam Warren, Trevor Cahill, Clayton Richard and/or Travis Wood before Spring Training ends in order for him to develop a rapport with another pitcher that could be used as a starter.
Joe Maddon has not committed publicly to Kyle Schwarber catching one starting pitcher. But the Cubs appear to be leaning in that direction for the beginning of the season.