Kyle Schwarber’s rib injury looks set to hand Austin Jackson the chance for an extended in the Chicago Cubs starting line-up. The rookie was pulled out of his team’s 7-4 defeat to the Cincinnati Reds with sore ribs, having picked up a problem right before the start of the game and forcing the Cubs to rethink their plans at the last minute by handing Jackson his first start since his arrival at Wrigley Field from the Seattle Mariners. While the Cubs will be desperate to have their impressive rookie back in action as soon as possible, the solid performance of Jackson in Schwarber’s absence should give Joe Maddon confidence that he need not rush the left fielder back too soon.
The Cubs are well aware of the dangers of rushing Schwarber back before he is ready after losing Tommy La Stella for a significant spell with a similar injury earlier in the season. While the franchise is still looking to secure a wild-card spot in the playoffs, bringing the rookie back into the starting roster only to lose him again for a longer spell could end up having a real impact on their hopes of making it into the postseason. La Stella only recently returned to action after his lay-off, hitting his first home run of the year as the Cubs lost their third straight series.
While the loss was a blow, the return of the second baseman wasn’t the only positive for the Cubs. Following his late inclusion, Jackson showed that he is going to be a very useful player to have on the roster. As well as looking comfortable in right field, the 28-year-old also went 2-for-4 at the plate in a solid all-round performance to open up his Cubs account. The two-time AL triples leader arrived in Chicago at the end of last month and could now be set for an extended run on a team that is still in the World Series mix with bettors, priced at 16/1 with the likes of bet365 as of press time.
The series defeat to the Giants hasn’t done the Cubs’ playoff hopes any favors, but they are still right up there following their incredible run of form over the past few months. Unlike a lot of other teams chasing the playoff spots, Chicago’s chances of reaching the postseason haven’t been hit too hard despite losing three straight series. After going on a six-game winning run, the Cubs went on a below-par 3-6 stretch that could have killed off a lot of other teams’ chances. Chicago, however, has put themselves in a position where they could probably still secure a postseason spot if they only went .500 between now and the end of the regular season.
In terms of Schwarber, though, Maddon will be desperate to have the rookie at his disposal by the time the playoffs come around. Having recorded a batting average of .270 with 13 home runs in his first season in the majors, the youngster has shown just why he was selected fourth overall in last year’s MLB Draft, and the 22-year-old could have a huge role still to play this year.