Maddon likes look of Schwarber in Chicago Cubs lineup

For the second time in the National League championship series, Kyle Schwarber started for the Chicago Cubs against a left-handed pitcher.

In Game 1, Schwarber started against Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw. He was in Wednesday night's Game 4 lineup against lefty Alex Wood, one night after homering off right-hander Yu Darvish.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon was asked if Schwarber could become an everyday National League player.

“He can be,” Maddon said. “There's no question he can be. The biggest thing's going to be to really get more consistent against left-handed pitching. The numbers are balanced with Wood, although even beyond that I just think Schwarbs has a really good look about him right now.

“He's competing on that very high level that he's capable of. He's made two great throws in the series. He's definitely present tense, man. I don't want to run away from that right now. I feel good about it.”

Maddon also knows Schwarber will be thought of as an American League player, a DH, his whole career by many people.

“Until he really has a solid defensive year, that's going to be said,” Maddon said. “He's working. He works. I know he missed that flyball the other day. You guys watch him every day. The guy works. I think if he continues with the same plan that he has, he's going to keep getting better.

“He's already improved his arm. I was bragging on his feet on that throw to the plate the other day (at Dodger Stadium). That was spectacular.

“The next thing is just going to be routes. The ball that hit off his glove, he kind of drifted to as opposed to running to the spot, as an example. That's correctable. The stuff that he doesn't do well can be made better.”

Schwarber entered Wednesday with 6 career postseason home runs, tying the franchise mark also held by Anthony Rizzo. He is just the third player to have at least 6 postseason home runs by his age-24 season, joining Albert Pujols (8 homers) and Andruw Jones (7).

Maddon likes his staff:

No announcements have been made, but Joe Maddon said his coaching staff is welcome back for 2018 as far as he is concerned. Team president Theo Epstein usually confirms that kind of news after the season.

“Of course, yes,” Maddon said. “The staff's done a great job. Our staff's been awesome. And they're tight. It's a tightly knit group. There's a lot of synergy involved. Nobody knows everything. Everybody helps everybody. There's a lot of cross pollination. Nobody's on their own little island. I like that.

“The thing I like is that I don't think any of them ever withholds saying something from me that they have on their mind, which I really appreciate.”

Too many trips?

Catcher Willson Contreras was back in the lineup, one night after being hit on the right forearm while catching Mike Montgomery. Alex Avila eventually came in for Contreras.

Contreras is a frequent visitor to the mound. Joe Maddon was asked if that gets excessive at times.

“Honestly, the times when it's been excessive it seems to be where, with Montgomery yesterday, he hit him on the arm with a cross-up,” Maddon said. “You've got to go talk to the guy. I think there was a little bit going on there with him.

“Otherwise a lot of his trips have been good. Even with CJ (Carl Edwards Jr.) yesterday, CJ needed that counseling yesterday. You just couldn't leave him out there by himself.

“So I really think and I often tell Willson, ‘Nice going. Nice job. Nice trip. Good trip,' because I can see it being relevant.”

Images: Cubs defeat the Dodgers in game four of the NLCS

  Center fielder Albert Almora Jr. will bat leadoff for the Chicago Cubs in Game 4 against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Steve Lundy/
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