Kyle Schwarber Adjusts Kilt, Slams Elevated Fastball into Miller Park Highlands

Kyle Schwarber has been on one lately, as the kids say. He’s slashing .300/.406/.722 with 10 homers and 27 RBI since the start of August, largely by making an adjustment to his hand placement that allows him to react better to various pitches. He’s tinkered with both his mechanics and approach frequently in the past, but that often left him skewing either too aggressive or tentative at the plate.

It’s one thing to be reactive in the moment and another to react based on the tendencies of the pitcher and situation. By being willing to take what pitchers give him, and having a plan for how he’s going to do it, Schwarber is resembling the hitter the Cubs thought they were getting when they selected him with the fourth overall pick.

Schwarber’s grand slam Thursday night, his second in Milwaukee this season, came as the result of something he’d seen earlier in the inning. He took note of how Anthony Rizzo handled a high fastball from lefty Drew Pomeranz and was waiting on the same thing when he dug in two batters later.

“Rizz was very flat to the ball there,” Schwarber said after the game. “That kind of told me, ‘Hey, be able to stay on top of the ball right here.”

And boy, did he ever turn on the ball, driving it 422 feet at nearly 110 mph. That’s a pitch Schwarber might have swung under in the past, but going up there with a plan and executing it is something we’ve seen much more frequently from him over the last few weeks.

His confidence has grown as a result, allowing him to just go up there and hit rather than getting locked up by thinking too much. The end result, beyond massive shots into the highlands of Miller Park, is a more sustainable overall approach. Rather than tinkering and waiting on the perfect pitch, Schwarber has been willing and able to take what he’s given and make the most of it.

“It’s been real. It’s real,” Maddon told reporters of the hot stretch. “That was real tonight. That’s a tough lefty and that ball was beyond properly struck. That ball was kilt. It was k-i-l-t. It was kilt. And that’s against an elevated fastball and if they can’t go there no more, heads up.”

Being a little looser and more athletic with his hands allows Schwarber to make adjustments and do damage against pitches in more locations, thereby making him an incredibly dangerous hitter. Have fun with that, opposing pitchers, I’m sure you’ll all do just fine.

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