John Lackey managed six quality innings yesterday against the Rays, needing just 79 pitches to do it. He was removed for a pinch hitter as the Cubs tried to push across their first runs of the day in that 6th inning, and it worked well, as Jon Jay ultimately hit the game-tying three-run homer.
Was Lackey also removed early to preserve his body a bit?
After the game, he revealed that he’s been dealing with plantar fasciitis in his right foot, though he did so with typical Lackey toughness: “I’m 38 years old. I’m bothered by a lot of things.” (Cubs.com)
With the All-Star break coming next week, Lackey was going to get some time to rest the ailment either way, but the Cubs are opting to use the disabled list in the interim.
Carrie Muskat reports that the Cubs will put Lackey on the disabled list to open up a spot for returning outfielder Kyle Schwarber.
Although you never want a player to be dealing with any kind of issue, the timing is certainly fortuitous for the Cubs. They will now get the benefit of an extra player on the roster for these final four games before the break, plus a few after the break, and it’s possible that Lackey will not even miss a start.
The 10-day disabled list, shortened from 15 days by the new CBA, always left open this possibility, and my guess is that the Cubs will not be the only team being a little extra aggressive in resting injuries in the run-up to the All-Star break.
After the break, the Cubs figure to get Kyle Hendricks back from the disabled list at some point, and the Cubs may very well also trade for a starting pitcher. What will happen in the rotation at that point remains to be seen, but it’s possible Lackey’s rotation spot is not locked in. Given how well Mike Montgomery has pitched, it’s hard to see him being removed from the rotation at this point, absent a blowup in his next few starts.