Throughout this season, the Los Angeles Dodgers have used the new 10-day disabled list as kind of a holding pen for starting pitchers. Seven different men have started games for the Dodgers this year and only one of those seven men — Clayton Kershaw — has not spent time on the disabled list. Not coincidentally, Kershaw is the only Dodgers starter who’s thrown more than 74 innings.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not accusing the Dodgers of shenanigans here. Maybe these guys really were/are injured, and the Dodgers have enough quality guys who can start games that they can afford to have some of their starters spend time on the DL without hurting their rotation.
I’m here to tell you that now is one of those times for the Cubs. That’s based on this tweet sent after Wednesday’s game:
#Cubs Lackey has been dealing with plantar fasciitis in his right foot— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) July 5, 2017
Plantar fasciitis is a very painful condition of the bottom of the foot. It’s a wonder John Lackey can throw at all, much less be effective as a major-league pitcher.
Wednesday was Lackey’s last start before the All-Star break, and check out what Joe Maddon said after the game:
Lackey's next start will be after the All-Star break. #Cubs Maddon: "We want to make sure he has a real lengthy vacation right now"— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) July 5, 2017
Assuming Jon Lester, who is starting Sunday, would also start the first game after the break a week from Friday on his normal rest, the earliest Lackey could start a game would be July 15. It’s doubtful Lackey would go right after Lester in the rotation after the All-Star Game, as the break gives Joe a chance to re-adjust. Perhaps Jake Arrieta goes July 15, maybe Mike Montgomery July 16 and perhaps Kyle Hendricks will even be available off the DL by July 17 in Atlanta, or that start could go to Eddie Butler if Hendricks isn’t quite ready yet. Or perhaps Brett Anderson is ready to return by then.
So Joe’s “lengthy vacation” for Lackey would likely end, at the earliest, July 18 — and this Tribune article suggests that will be the day of his next start. That’s 12 days from now.
I think the Cubs should place Lackey on the 10-day DL and call up an extra position player for the four days remaining before the break. It wouldn’t hurt to have Jeimer Candelario available off the bench to give Maddon more flexibility using pinch-hitters or defensive replacements. Remember, even though Candelario was just sent back to Triple-A Iowa two days ago and normally players have to stay down for 10 days once being optioned, that rule doesn’t apply in the case of a disabled-list placement.
Do it, Theo & Jed. Give Lackey that “lengthy vacation” and give your manager an extra bench player, at least through Sunday.