On a night where Jacob deGrom was simply too good, which he’s done to the Cubs in that park before, it wouldn’t seem right to bitch about John Lackey’s pitching, even though he gave up three homers.
But I’ve never been concerned with what seems right.
This is the fourth of five starts where Lackey has been shelled. There was a three start spurt that almost crossed into competence. You have to wonder how many more he’s going to get before his spot in the rotation is up for grabs. And good lord do I want to be in on that meeting.
The three homers Lackey gave up came on fastballs, one a cutter, and none of them were above 92 MPH. All were right down the middle of the plate. Lackey’s approach has always been something of a crotch-grab, pumping strikes and daring anyone to do anything about it. He’s never had spot-on location, but that was ok when he was in the 93-94 range. There were times last year he could touch 95. But even that slight drop-off has caused major problems. And you can tell he doesn’t have any answers
And I don’t think there’s a Plan B with Lackey. He’s not going to get pinpoint control now. His curve kind of rolls instead of breaks. He doesn’t have a change-up. It’s unlikely he’s going to get more velocity as the season goes on.
But of course, what burns your ass about Lackey is it’s never his fault. The ump missed a borderline call on Jay Bruce, but that’s no excuse to groove one on the next pitch. Except it is to Lackey. And we’ve seen this all season. When something goes wrong, it all goes wrong. You can barley tolerate the temper tantrums when he’s pitching over it. Now they’re the crutch he runs to because he can’t pump fastballs by anyone at the moment, or maybe anymore. On the first pitch of an inning he grooves one to Asdrubal Cabrera, still hitting .244, and he’s still yelling at the ump. How’s that going to get him any favors?
The Cubs are just over two weeks from being halfway through the season, which is when you’d have to start making some decisions. Arrieta is hardly a sure bet these days. Lester and Hendricks aren’t as effective as last year. The 5th spot has been dicey, and they may need to lock it down with Montgomery, which would weaken the pen and make a functional rotation even more important. Lackey’s slack has to be starting to tighten.
Other than that, deGrom is going to do that to you sometimes. I know it sucks, and I know that the Cubs have to get to good pitchers. Except they hit the shit out of Clayton Kershaw last time, they just didn’t bother to win that game. The offense has been spotty but it hasn’t been abhorrent of late.
The problem for the Cubs is the depth erodes when everyone is having so much trouble. Normally if Russell wasn’t hitting you’d give Baez more time at short. But he isn’t hitting either. And neither is Zobrist, which is probably here Haps should go if he has to play. Except his .210 average isn’t lighting up neon signs, though he at least goes yard every so often. With Schwarber struggling you’d want to give Jay more time there, but he needs to fill in the gap in center with Almora not hitting. There’s too many moles to whack. And oh, Jason Heyward’s “resurgence” isn’t even league average.
All right, that’s enough.