Here’s the crazy thing: The Cubs can replace a lot of what Fowler brings to the table. On paper, at least. The switch-hitting Zobrist can lead off just fine — he had a .386 on-base percentage with 96 walks to just 82 strikeouts in 2016. He won’t necessarily be an every-day player in Chicago’s crowded lineup, but that’s OK, because at 36 years old and coming off Cam Newton Authentic Jersey back-to-back seven-month seasons, he doesn’t need to start 140-150 games.
When a tough righty is on the mound or Baez needs a breather, Zobrist can still play second base. When the Cubs are up against a dominant lefty, he can play left or right for Schwarber or Heyward. There’s no reason to think Heyward can’t play center — he was ready to in 2016 before Fowler returned — opening right field for Zobrist. Almora doesn’t have to be left out of the mix as he starts games as well, perhaps against lefties, which could move around the deck chairs some more without Fowler. If anyone can make it work, it’s manager Joe Maddon.
Although nothing has been agreed upon at this point, it seems inevitable that this swap is going to take place. The only question might be what the September roster limits will look like. But expanding the size of the roster and adding at least 30 full-time players with full service time and benefits is a no-brainer for union head Tony Clark.
The Mariners grew so frustrated with Walker they sent him down to the minors in early August. Manager Scott Servais basically questioned Walker’s competitiveness. “When you go out there and take the mound as one of five starting pitchers, there’s a certain level of expectation,” Servais said at the time of the demotion. “You have to go deeper in games. You’ve got to be competitive when you go out there. Just the consistency of it, not knowing what you’re going to get from time to time.”
In one of his first starts back from the minors, Walker allowed six runs and Cameron Artis-Payne Authentic Jersey three home runs while getting knocked out in the first inning. After that, he took some advice from pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. and added a little Felix Hernandez-like twist to his delivery to help him hide the ball better and keep his shoulder from flying open. Two starts later, against the same team that had just shelled him, he pitched a three-hit, 11-strikeout shutout against the Angels. Over his final five starts, he posted a 2.93 ERA. That’s the kind of upside the pitching-starved Diamondbacks are banking on.