The Chicago Cubs are in an interesting spot. Some people see the DH spot as something that helps them big time but it isn’t as true as it once was.
When Kyle Schwarber first burst onto the scene for the Chicago Cubs, people would say that would be a perfect designated hitter. He was a former catcher that was being turned into an outfielder. He injured himself making a defensive play early in the 2016 season and came back in time to play and win the World Series. The people that thought that was very right but it doesn’t help the Cubs as much as it once did.
The Cubs used to be so much deeper than they are now. They had players like Jorge Soler, Ben Zobrist, and even Kris Bryant play some left field that season. Now, if they used Schwarber as a designated hitter, his defensive replacement certainly won’t be as impactful as some of the guys they used to have. They also might not use Schwarber as the designated hitter as much as some people think this year either.
This is a 60 game season. There is an argument to be made to use some of the star players in all 60 games. If a guy like Anthony Rizzo or Javier Baez needs a day off, they could absolutely take a day off their defensive duties but they are going to be designated hitters. Teams are going to be way more strategic with this designated hitter position with the way this schedule is this year, especially the National League teams.
There are also the catchers to think about in a year like this. If the Cubs need Willson Contreras to have a day off from catching, as most catchers get frequently, they should absolutely want him to hit because he is a very good hitter. It is going to be very interesting to see how these NL teams use their newfound designated hitter.
The Cubs are a very top-heavy team. The starting lineup and pitching rotation have some high-level players at the top. The problem is, the depth that was there back in 2016 is long gone. It is a group that has lots of stars and then it drops off quickly. If everyone can stay healthy, then they just might be able to take advantage of this new designated hitter spot but they definitely aren’t as benefited by it as some people may think.