NLCS 2016: Kyle Schwarber available for World Series? Cubs fans can dare to dream

CHICAGO — The Windy City caught full-blown Kyle Schwarber fever Saturday. Cubs fans fell in love with the rookie slugger last year, when he hit 16 home runs in 69 games during the regular season. The left-handed powder keg became legend during the playoffs, when he hit .333 with five homers and a 1.308 OPS in nine October games. MORE: Ranking the 50 best players in the playoffsSo it didn’t matter that Schwarber’s knee blew up on April 7 — he tore his ACL and LCL in a collision with Dexter Fowler in the outfield — because he was a fan favorite, and fan favorites don’t disappear while they’re hurt. Their legend only grows.  Did I mention that those five playoff homers set a franchise record? Schwarber jerseys were all over the Wrigley Field stands during the first two games of the NLDS, when the Cubs took care of the Giants. And when the Dodgers visited for Game 1 of the NLCS, the cheers for Schwarber during the pregame introductions rivaled those of any healthy Cubs player. And though the Cubs have always maintained that Schwarber’s return date was 2017, fans held out hope.MORE: Indians might get Danny Salazar back for SeriesThe thought went: The Cubs are really good now, but imagine how good they’d be if Kyle was back in the lineup. It was a dream too intoxicating to dream. Now, though? Now it’s a realistic possibility. Schwarber was cleared by his doctors to hit Monday, then looked great in batting practice Wednesday. On Saturday, the Cubs added Schwarber to their Arizona Fall League roster, to see what he might be able to offer.  When that news broke in Chicago … well, they were a tad bit excited. kind-serious question: which left-handed hitter do you think would be more productive for the cubs in the world series (if they get there)?— Ryan Fagan (@Flanagan) October 22, 2016I mean, Schwarber hit a home run against the Cardinals in the NLDS last year that is still sitting atop

the scoreboard in right field. His name is either shouted in excitement in this town or whispered in reverence. There’s very little in-between with this beloved blaster of baseballs. MORE: Must-see NLCS photosAnd even though the Cubs are hedging a bit — “There’s a chance,” is how manager Joe Madden put it — the excitement level in Chicago jumped up a couple levels with the announcement that Schwarber could possibly be activated for the World Series against Cleveland.Which is saying something, considering this franchise is on the brink of reaching the World Series for the first time since 1945. Let’s splash a dose of reality here: The chance of Schwarber sitting out six months, taking a couple days of BP, then maybe a few AFL games and suddenly being an effective, productive hitter as the DH in the World Series against guys like Corey Lubber is slim. But the chances of a franchise going 108 years without winning a World Series are pretty slim, too. So don’t talk with Cubs fans about the odds, because they don’t want to hear it.


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