Thinking outside the box a little here, but what if the Cubs brought John Lackey back next year as the No. 5 starter? I’m reasonably sure he is retiring, but what if he isn’t? Now, I am not a proponent of retaining Lackey by any means, but we are talking about a pitcher who takes the mound every five days and he sure beats some of the Cubs’ more recent choices for the role:
- 2017 – Brett Anderson (Average Game Score 37.6)
- 2016 – Jason Hammel (AGS 52.6)
- 2015 – Travis Wood (AGS 47.7)
- 2014 – Carlos Villanueva (AGS 28.9)
Lackey’s 2017 AGS was 51 and that lines up pretty closely with his career average. The NL average for a fifth starter last year was 47. In fact, the only fifth starter with a higher AGS was Zack Godley of Arizona (57).
Still, Lackey’s 5.30 FIP screams, “Please no!” and I question the big guy’s motivation. Lack was the one guy who carried that World Series hangover from his first pitch of the 2017 season to his last in my opinion. There were a few big games down the stretch — September was the big right-hander’s strongest month — but two wretched starts at the end of August against Pittsburgh and Milwaukee really epitomized his entire season. Lackey was consistently bad at the end of each month, giving up 48 runs in 68 ⅓ innings in those starts.
Of course, Lackey’s last regular season outing came in relief and offered some foreshadowing of sorts for this season’s playoffs. Lackey is not a reliever and in all honesty those outings should be forgiven, but they’re pretty tough to forget. And as I mentioned yesterday, I’d rather see the Cubs get Tyler Chatwood and Alex Cobb. Lackey wouldn’t be the worst option, though I imagine he’d certainly be a pretty unpopular choice.
Shohei Otani signed with Creative Artists Agency yesterday as he prepares for a possible move to Major League Baseball.
Hot Stove Hot Take: Mike Axisa of CBS Sports predicts the Cubs will trade SS Addison Russell to Tampa for SP Chris Archer. He also has Giancarlo Stanton going to the Red Sox for a package built around Andrew Benintendi. Discuss amongst yourselves.
Free agency just started Monday and there are about three dozen players who will be traded in the next 45 days, but right now the Astros are the odds-on favorites to win the 2018 World Series.
Dan Szymborski released his early 2018 ZiPS projections yesterday (subscription required). ZiPS has the Cubs finishing with 87 wins, but you’ll have to read the article to see if that’s enough to win the NL Central. This same model predicted the Cubs to win 92 games in 2017, which is exactly what happened.
Dan Bickley of AZ Central states that “the rebirth of America’s pastime has been fueled by home runs, advanced metrics, tricked-up baseballs, revamped swings and other accoutrements of evolution.” Here’s a counterpoint article. Discuss this also.
Finalists for the BBWAA end-of-season awards were announced yesterday, with winners announced next week. The most intriguing category this year is AL MVP. I’ll take Altuve in that one, but here are all my picks:
- 2017 NL MVP – Giancarlo Stanton
- 2017 AL MVP – Jose Altuve
- 2017 NL Cy Young Award – Max Scherzer
- 2017 AL Cy Young Award – Corey Kluber
- 2017 NL Rookie of the Year – Cody Bellinger
- 2017 AL Rookie of the Year – Aaron Judge
- 2017 NL Manager of the Year – Torey Luvullo
- 2017 AL Manager of the Year – A.J. Hinch
Tuesday Walk Up Song
Lazy Eye by the Silversun Pickups. This band will be playing in Chicago on Wednesday evening at The Riviera in case somebody wants to take me.