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Lackey as a Reliever, Impact on NLDS Roster, Real Batting Champ, and Other Notes

Chicago Cubs News

The label I use for the daily round-up/stray thoughts posts is, as you know, “Other Bullets,” a reference to the bullet point style of the post. On a number of occasions that I can recall, I avoided using “Bullets” in the title because the post was coming shortly after a mass shooting, because if I don’t, I get harangued by a few folks who don’t really know what BN is and only see the titles on social media. Unfortunately, I’ve had to do that far too many times in the past few years.


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I’m sorry that something that stupid is the immediate context for what happened in Las Vegas. It’s just the moment in the day I’m first confronted with having to say something about another senseless, evil, terrible tragedy.

On to much less important things …

  • Yesterday’s relief appearance by John Lackey was, in fact, something of a trial run in the role, seeing how it would play if he were to be a reliever on the postseason roster. Per Joe Maddon (CSN): “Give him a test out of the bullpen — see what it looked like, see how he felt, that kinda thing. He gave up a run, whatever it was, but I thought he had a really good slider coming out of the ‘pen and his velocity was normal. So I thought he looked actually pretty good.”
  • Whether he’s a reliever or not, as Jake Arrieta’s recovery from the hamstring strain has not been a straight line to perfection, I have become increasingly comfortable with the idea of carrying Lackey on the 25-man roster. Whether he is used as a one-inning guy or held back purely for long relief if something goes totally sideways with a starter, I think it makes sense to have that protection available, particularly when you consider how well Lackey pitched in the second half.

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  • If Lackey does make the roster, and if the Cubs carry only seven relievers, then Lackey’s presence would bounce someone like Hector Rondon or Justin Wilson (there are five holy locks in the bullpen: Wade Davis, Pedro Strop, Carl Edwards Jr., Mike Montgomery, and Brian Duensing).
  • Please note, though, that the roster won’t be decided until later this week. There’s no lock just yet that Lackey will make the cut. As a pure reliever, there would be some concerns leaning on Lackey in a tight game:

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

  • There are ways to discuss the Coors Field effect without doing this:

  • (We could also continue to downplay batting average in isolation, where it tells us very little about a player’s overall offensive contributions. Charlie Blackmon’s 141 wRC+, for example, is quite good, but is just 10th in the NL.)

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  • Also, the Nationals have some silly good offensive contributors this year:

  • There was a time when Matt Cain was mentioned among the top young arms in the game, consistently solid, and headed for a free agent bonanza after the 2012 season at age 28. But the Giants did the prudent thing, locking him up on a reasonable five-year, $112.5 million extension (kicking in for the 2013 season), and they got to hang onto the young righty they’d developed out of high school, and whom they saw debut in the big leagues at just 20 years old. But things went south immediately as that extension kicked in for 2013, and the guy who’d been worth 28.3 WAR through 2012 was worth just 1.3 WAR during the five extension years. A lotta mileage on that young arm apparently took its toll. And, now 33, Cain is retiring:

  • A saw a link to an old Baseball America top prospects retrospective – looking at the top league prospects from five years ago, as of 2001 – come across my timeline on Twitter last night. It was impressive to see how well the rankings had played out, with so many future stars accounted for at the top of the various rankings. I couldn’t help but notice one name standing out at the highest levels, though, as the one guy who had not reached the big leagues as of 2001, despite multiple high rankings: Ron Wright. I had no idea who he was, and I was curious about how a position player could be ranked so high in multiple upper-level leagues in 1996, but not even reach the big leagues by 2001. Some searching led me to this New York Times profile of Wright from 2007, and it is an incredible story. A sad one, though Wright doesn’t see it that way. It’s worth a read, to see just how close a player can be, and then to see it all taken away in the blink of an eye.
  • Cool and good Deals of the Day at Amazon today, and I’m going to be doing some thinking: a programmable cooking pot, a GhostBed, a bunch of cheap rubbermaid food storage containers (honey, we neeeeed those), and a memory foam mattress for pets! Amazon also has a bundle deal on its FireTV stick and the Echo Dot for $59.99 (33% off).

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  • And for you Bears fans … Adam Schefter reports it’s really happening! Woooooo:


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Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation.