With John Lackey coming off the disabled list and the roster expanding this week, according to multiple reports, the Cubs are thinking about using a six-man rotation.
When asked about the possibility of a six-man rotation, Joe Maddon said, “To do anything we possibly can to conserve our arms at the end of the year I think is important. The biggest trick is to get the sixth guy who you like when most teams are clamoring to get four or five. So we got five we like now. We’re working on six. Hopefully it works that way, and then you can do something like that.”
“We haven’t planned that specifically yet,” Maddon said. “I’m not opposed, let me put it that way. We’ll see how it all plays out with Mikey the next time through.”
The Cubs have hinted at using a six-man rotation at various times this season. The Cubs have given spot starts to Adam Warren, Brian Matusz, Trevor Cahill and Mike Montgomery this year as Joe Maddon and Chris Bosio explored ways to back off the regular season workloads of Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, John Lackey, Jason Hammel and Kyle Hendricks.
John Lackey is expected to be activated from the DL after the roster expands on Sept. 1. Lackey could start one of the four games against the Giants or early in the series with the Brewers next week in Milwaukee (Sept. 5-7). Lackey is scheduled to throw a bullpen Monday. If all goes as expected, Lackey will have one more side session before he comes off the disabled list. Maddon told the beat writers Sunday that Lackey will throw two bullpens before being activated from the DL.
Mike Montgomery will stay in the rotation and take his turn on Wednesday in the finale with the Pirates. The Cubs have Jake Arrieta (Monday), Kyle Hendricks (Tuesday) and Montgomery lined up for the three games with the Bucs. Depending on how Lackey is inserted in the mix, Jason Hammel, Jon Lester, Arrieta and Hendricks would start the four games against the Giants.
The Cubs maintain that starters pitch more on five days rest than four over the course of a regular season due to rainouts and built in off days. Starting pitchers stick to and rely on their routines and most say they would prefer to pitch every five days.
Here’s how the Cubs starting staff has performed on four and five days rest this season:
- Four Days – 5-4, 3.08 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 10 games, 44 hits, 23 runs, 21 earned runs, 29 walks, 58 strikeouts, 61 1/3 innings
- Five Days – 8-1, 2.95 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 11 games, 49 hits, 24 runs, 24 earned runs, 26 walks, 76 strikeouts, 73 1/3 innings
- Four Days – 6-2, 2.10 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 10 games, 49 hits, 15 runs, 15 earned runs, 14 walks, 65 strikeouts, 64 1/3 innings
- Five Days – 5-2, 3.76 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 12 games, 56 hits, 30 runs, 28 earned runs, 26 walks, 70 strikeouts, 67 innings
- Four Days – 5-4, 3.44 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 13 games, 65 hits, 34 runs, 32 earned runs, 20 walks, 92 strikeouts, 83 2/3 innings
- Five Days – 3-2, 2.89 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, seven games, 36 hits, 15 runs, 15 earned runs, 15 walks 45 strikeouts, 46 2/3 innings
- Four Days – 5-3, 4.14 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 10 games, 50 hits, 31 runs, 27 earned runs, 19 walks, 45 strikeouts, 58 2/3 innings
- Five Days – 5-4, 2.98 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 11 games, 50 hits, 20 runs, 19 earned runs, 18 walks, 49 strikeouts, 57 1/3 innings
- Four Days – 5-3, 2.21 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, nine games, 41 hits, 18 runs, 13 earned runs, 18 walks, 45 strikeouts, 53 innings
- Five Days – 4-4, 2.53 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 12 games, 64 hits, 25 earned runs, 22 earned runs, 14 walks, 77 strikeouts, 78 1/3 innings
The Cubs haven’t won anything and pointed out several times during the recently completed road trip that there is a lot of ball to be played and work to be done. The Cubs are looking at the big picture, according to Comcast SportsNet, and the lead in the division and for the best record in the National League allows them “to get creative in September.”