Barry Zito will probably become an $18.5 million relief pitcher pretty soon, but he’s set to make a spot start for the Giants next week.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy confirmed today that Zito will return from the disabled list to start the second game of a doubleheader Tuesday against the Cubs, according to Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News.
Zito hasn’t pitched for the Giants since he sprained his right foot on April 16. The 33-year-old has a 2.20 ERA over four minor league rehab starts, including a complete-game two-hitter for Triple-A Fresno on Tuesday.
Zito would probably be a respectable backend starter for several major league teams, but he has little chance of cracking the Giants’ rotation right now. His replacement Ryan Vogelsong has a 1.86 ERA and 57/19 K/BB ratio over 72 2/3 innings this season.
Joe Maddon just held his annual media availability here at the Winter Meetings. During the scrum he said that Kyle Schwarber “looked great the other day” at a Cubs community event and that . . . wait for it . . . “he’s in, probably, arguably in the best shape of his life.” Maddon went on to say that, if Schwarber looks good in spring training, he might even be the Cubs leadoff hitter in 2018.
Schwarber is only 24, but the former catcher turned outfielder is going to spend most of his career as a DH, with another team obviously, unless he shows the Cubs that he can be a regular defender. The Cubs would love to see him in better shape whether they keep him or shop him, and if it’s the latter, they’ll want to show potential trade partners that he can play defense so as not to limit his market. It’s in everyone’s interests for him to be lean, mean and a bit more flexible once spring training starts.
To that end, according to a recent report, Schwarber “has been on a mission this offseason to transform his body.” And now Maddon is playing up the BSOHL angle. Whether that’s salesmanship or not, all eyes are going to be on Schwarber come February.