Matt Szczur spent most of 2016 as a late-inning bench option for the Cubs, getting just 200 plate appearances over 107 games. He hit a respectable .259 but displayed neither speed nor power with just two steals and five home runs. Szczur did steal 50 bases between 2014-2015 with Triple-A Iowa and the Cubs didn't run much as a team last year, but it's easy to wonder if his speed is diminishing with age. The Cubs' outfield still looks awfully crowded with Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist, Kyle Schwarber, Jon Jay and Albert Almora Jr. all likely ahead of Szczur in the hunt for playing time. If the 2016 playoffs are any indication of what the Cubs will look like in 2017, that would certainly be bad for Szczur, who didn't even make the playoff roster. It would likely take a slew of injuries for Szczur to see regular major league playing time, severely limiting his fantasy potential for 2017.
Whether Szczur makes the Cubs roster could depend on whether the team wants an extra outfielder or infielder, Carrie Muskat of MLB.com reports. The Cubs outfield is already pretty crowded, with Albert Almora Jr., Jon Jay, Jason Heyward and Kyle Schwarber locked in, and Ben Zobrist able to play both second base and the outfield. Szczur is out of options, so if the Cubs try to send him down, he will have to pass through waivers.
Szczur is in Sunday's lineup versus Colorado. Szczur was brought in after Chicago scratched Jorge Soler from the lineup with leg soreness. Szczur will start in left field and be batting eighth as the Cubs conclude their series against the Rockies.
Szczur is out of the lineup Sunday against the Rockies. Szczur had started three consecutive games, going 3-for-14 in that time. He'll head to the bench Sunday, as Kris Bryant leaves his normal spot at third and moves to left field.
Szczur has not played the last two games and has just 20 at-bats this month, but he stayed up with the Cubs when Dexter Fowler was activated Friday. Szczur has been a strong asset off the bench this season, but he's a luxury the Cubs may not be able to afford much longer, as both Jorge Soler and Chris Coghlan are nearing returns from injury, and Albert Almora - Friday's roster casualty - is waiting in the wings as well.
Szczur went 2-for-5 with a two-run homer in Friday's 6-0 victory over the Pirates. The 26-year-old got things started on the right foot for the Cubs, smacking a two-run blast on Francisco Liriano's second pitch of the game. It was Szczur's first homer since April 29, and helped bring his season line to .333/.375/.533. With a lefty on the mound, the Cubs were able to work both Szczur and rookie Albert Almora into the lineup at left field and right field, respectively, with Jason Heyward taking a seat for the afternoon.