Kyle Schwarber has started in one of the Chicago Cubs’ three games since his return from the minors but that will likely change this week.
Schwarber is expected to get at least three starts in a four-game road series against the Cincinnati Reds, potentially beginning with Monday night’s opener.
Schwarber went 3 for 4 in a 4-2 loss in Atlanta on Friday after being recalled, putting his average at .423 in his first seven major league games, but he was limited to one pinch-hit appearance in each of Chicago’s ensuing back-to-back wins over the Braves.
That was likely because of his two errors behind the plate at Turner Field. He reportedly spent this weekend practicing with pitching coach Chris Bosio and catching instructor Mike Borzello.
Before a 4-1 victory Sunday, manager Joe Maddon detailed the plan for the near future for Cubs’ highly touted prospect. When he was called up, Schwarber was expected to split time at catcher with veteran David Ross because of Miguel Montero’s stint on the disabled list (thumb) and play occasionally in the outfield.
"We just want to make sure we bring him up properly and we don’t put too much on him too quickly," Maddon said. "I thought he had a wonderful day (Friday), and we’re going to try to continue those wonderful days without pushing him too hard."
Schwarber will try to help deliver the Cubs’ 11th win in the past 13 meetings with Cincinnati. Chicago (49-41) is 7-2 against the Reds this season.
Cincinnati (40-49) doesn’t look poised to change that record, having lost 12 of 18. A 5-3 defeat in 11 innings to Cleveland on Sunday was also its fifth in six home games.
The Reds’ staff has a 6.27 ERA in that stretch and a 5.20 mark in its past 16 overall games. Following a 6-1 win in Friday’s opener against Cleveland, Cincinnati gave up a combined 14 runs, 24 hits and 14 walks – including four with the bases loaded Sunday – in the final two games.
"It’s been a tough road so far but we have enough games in the second half to make something out of this season," outfielder Jason Bourgeois said. "We’re going to continue to play hard. That’s all you can ask for."
That might aid a Cubs team that’s had some issues with consistency at the plate. Chicago is batting .218 in its last 22 games and has scored two runs or fewer in 14.
Michael Lorenzen gave up six runs in 4 1-3 innings in his only start against the Cubs, a 6-3 loss June 11, but hasn’t yielded more than three in any of his other 11 starts. The rookie right-hander has logged a 2.83 ERA in his five subsequent outings and gave up two runs in six innings in a 2-0 loss July 9 in Miami.
That was the second straight defeat for Lorenzen (3-4, 3.53 ERA), who has received one run of support in his last three games.
Clayton Richard (1-0, 5.79) got plenty of assistance in his first major league start in two years July 4, a 7-2 win over Miami. The left-hander yielded two runs in 6 1-3 innings in that game but gave up four in three innings of relief in a 6-5 loss to St. Louis on July 8.
Richard is 0-2 with a 6.33 ERA in five starts against the Reds and is facing them for the first time since July 7, 2012.