With Trevor Cahill coming onto the 25-man roster yesterday, there was a chance the Cubs would open up a spot for him by placing starter John Lackey, who left his start on Sunday with shoulder tightness, on the disabled list. But instead it was reliever Joe Smith going on the DL. (The Cubs then also added Chris Coghlan to the DL, bringing up reliever Spencer Patton.)
So Lackey stays on the active roster, and the plan is now for him to start on Tuesday, when the team is in San Diego (Cubs.com).
If Lackey’s not able to go on Tuesday, then the Cubs might have to consider a DL stint, but, so far, there still doesn’t seem to be an abundance of concern – just an abundance of caution.
The rest of the rotation has been reshuffled a bit, and lefty Mike Montgomery will be inserted on Saturday in Colorado for a spot start. So the rotation, from today through Tuesday, goes Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks, Montgomery, Jason Hammel, Jon Lester, Lackey.
Montgomery, 27, was acquired by the Cubs in a mid-July trade for Dan Vogelbach and has been in the bullpen since. But he actually came up as a starter, and made two successful spot starts for the Mariners just before he was traded to the Cubs. We discussed it back when he was acquired: there was always a chance that the Cubs would get Montgomery for the bullpen this year, with an eye toward giving him a shot at the rotation next year. No, this spot start in Colorado isn’t necessarily a precursor to anything like that, but it’s a reminder that the Cubs already consider Montgomery to be much more than just a LOOGY.
So far in 8.2 innings with the Cubs, Montgomery has a 3.12 ERA, a 4.30 FIP, and a 3.38 xFIP. He allowed one earned run in each of his first three appearances with the Cubs, but none of the last four.
The bet here is that Montgomery goes two or three or maybe four innings, to be followed by Cahill – the reverse of what the duo did on Tuesday. And if you get five or six successful innings out of them, combined, you’ve gotta be happy about it.
If you’re wondering why Cahill didn’t get the start, given how well the first one went, it’s just a matter of timing. Cahill threw 83 pitches on Tuesday, and would have been going on just three days rest on Saturday. That’s probably enough rest for him to toss a couple innings, but not enough for him to start.