Today, as expected, the Chicago Cubs have optioned project-starter Eddie Butler back to Triple-A Iowa to make room for tonight’s starter, John Lackey, who returns from the disabled list (per multiple reports on Twitter).
Lackey, you’ll recall, hit the DL just before the All-Star break for plantar fasciitis in his foot, which opened up a spot on the roster for Kyle Schwarber who was returning from Triple-A Iowa. The timing was very convenient for the Cubs.
The new 10-day disabled list, shortened from 15 days by the new CBA, always left open the possibility for this sort of shenaniganry, and the Cubs benefited from it greatly. Now, Lackey returns to an elevated 5.20 ERA (5.65 FIP) to make tonight’s start against the Braves. Here’s to no first-inning runs, and as few homers as possible.
The man heading back down, Eddie Butler, got a good long look this summer, making eleven starts and two relief appearances since being called up for the start on May 12. Despite his sub-4.00 ERA, I don’t think you can quite call Butler’s time with the Cubs a big success (his command troubles were significant), but I also don’t think you can rule him out for the future either. The pieces to become a successful starter are there, he just needs to make something of them.
With this move, the Cubs bullpen moves down to seven, which is an arm less than Joe Maddon has typically had available in his time with the Cubs.
In theory, though, Kyle Hendricks will return soon, and one of Mike Montgomery (more likely) or John Lackey (less likely) will move into the bullpen and a position player will be on his way out. Until then, the Cubs will hope for some nice, long starts from their rotation.