The Chicago Cubs announced on Friday that outfielder Kyle Schwarber will miss the remainder of the season after tearing the ACL and LCL in his left knee against the Arizona Diamondbacks on April 7, just the third game into the regular season.
It’s a massive blow for the Cubs, who entered the season as heavy World Series favourites and will now be without one of their most dangerous hitters for the entirety of the season.
Schwarber’s injury is one that will have fans of the North Siders cursing the baseball gods. In the second inning of the Cubs’ third game of the season, Diamondbacks’ shortstop Jean Segura hit a John Lackey pitch into the left-center gap, sending both Schwarber and Cubs’ center fielder Dexter Fowler racing at one another for the ball.
Neither player called the other off, resulting in an ugly collision. Segura wound up with an inside-the-park home run, and Schwarber had to be carted off with what looked like an ankle injury. A later MRI instead revealed a torn MCL and LCL.
Schwarber’s absence will be felt more offensively than defensively. Although the 24-year-old is a subpar outfielder, his bat dominated last year, especially in the playoffs when he hit five home runs in nine games — including a bomb against the Cardinals in the NLDS.
It’s unclear exactly how Joe Maddon will replace Schwarber. As SI’s Jon Taylor noted, Jorge Soler will likely fill in as the regular left fielder, but utility man Ben Zobrist could also move to left when infielder Javier Baez returns from the DL. One way or another, it will be a committee of players needed to replace Schwarber. Although the team is still excellent from top to bottom, their lineup is now a little less scary.
The season is long, but this is the first real test for the Cubs. Luckily, they have at least one bat they can count on to replace Schwarber: reigning Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta, who on Sunday hit a 440-foot home run. Not bad for a pitcher.