God, I miss John Lackey. The Cubs are going to miss him, too, because he’s headed to the disabled list with shoulder stiffness.
Watching that last pitch that he threw on Sunday Night Baseball brought back memories of watching Lackey pitch in Boston when he had a similar moment up in Toronto at the start of the 2013 season. Lackey had just returned from missing the entire 2012 season following Tommy John surgery, and his reaction was much worse than this one from earlier this week. But he ended up being fine, and it sounds like he’ll end up being fine from this injury, too.
Lackey’s stint on the disabled list is being viewed strictly as precautionary, and the Cubs can afford to do that because they’re moonwalking to the finish line, holding a 13-game lead over the second place St. Louis Cardinals coming into today. I was just looking at the numbers, and it’s almost laughable how good the Cubs’ pitching has been this season. Lackey has been their “worst” starter this year, even though he has a 3.41 ERA, the 30th best in the majors. Lackey has the highest ERA in the Cubs rotation, but he’d have the lowest ERA in the Minnesota Twins, Oakland A’s, and Arizona Diamondbacks rotations.
Also, Hector Rondon missed a week and a half earlier this month with tricep soreness, and he’s also headed to the disabled list with Lackey. Rondon returned from his time off in the same game that Lackey was initially injured, faced five batters, only recorded one out, and allowed four earned runs on four hits, two of which were home runs. The injury didn’t seem to effect his velocity, because Rondon still averaged 97.13 MPH with his fastball in his most recent outing on Tuesday, which is actually higher than what he’s averaging for the whole season (96.76 MPH), so it seems like his DL stint is also precautionary.
While the Cubs have the second highest run-producing team in the National League, their pitching is also an incredibly dangerous weapon of theirs, so it’s smart of them to get these guys right now so that they’re not dealing with an injury and/or fatigue in October.