Chicago Cubs: Why John Lackey is best option for Game 1
By Ryan Tadych
The Chicago Cubs are in the NLCS for the third consecutive year. However, their rotation is a bit of question mark for the first two games.
With just one off day between the series, the Chicago Cubs rotation is a bit of question mark, and there is only one option that makes sense. Let’s break this down real quick.
Kyle Hendricks pitched yesterday so he obviously can’t pitch Game 1 on Saturday. Jon Lester pitched three innings of relief on Wednesday, making him unavailable to start on Saturday. Jake Arrieta started on Wednesday as well. So that leaves just two options for Game 1: Jose Quintana or John Lackey.
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Quintana started on Monday, meaning he would be in line to start Game 1 on Saturday. However, he did come out of the bullpen in Game 5 last night. Quintana faced only four batters and threw just 12 pitches. However, this is the first time in the pitching in the playoffs and coming out of the bullpen was new to him.
John Lackey was not used at all in the NLDS, meaning he should be fresh and ready to pitch. From a numbers standpoint, Lackey is probably not the best Game 1 option, but he makes the most sense. It allows Quintana to get a breather and allow the craziness of the playoffs to catch up him a bit.
At 39, Lackey now has three World Series rings and over 140 innings of playoff experience. You know that Lackey is going to go out there and give you everything he’s got. This would allow Jose Quintana to get an extra, following a bullpen appearance and a delayed flight to Los Angeles.
Then, with the off-day on Monday, the Cubs can line up the rest of the rotation the way they would like.
This is what Lackey is here for
After all, the Cubs signed Lackey to a two-year contract because of his playoff experience. It would be wise not to let $17 million sit on a bullpen bench for seven more games. I know that Lackey had an up-and-down season (12-12, 4.59 ERA) but he had a really solid second half and has been in this situation before.
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I’ll be the first to admit that I did not want to see Lackey start in the five-game series against the Nationals, but this is different. The Cubs pitching staff is a mess. They basically emptied the tank in Games 4 and 5. Nobody in the bullpen could get outs yesterday and Wade Davis was called upon for a seven out save. The Cubs need Lackey to start a game in this series. It will help get the rotation back on track and well rested. It just makes the most sense.