Cubs manager Joe Maddon said Lackey could be an option out of the bullpen in the playoffs, ESPN Chicago's Jesse Rogers reports. Lackey tossed one inning in relief Sunday afternoon, giving up one run on two hits and taking the loss. There are signs suggesting that Lackey will retire upon the conclusion of the Cubs' season in the coming weeks, as he'll turn 39 later this month and is coming off a season in which he posted his highest ERA (4.59) since 2011 (6.41).
Lackey, 38, seems likely to retire after this season, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Lackey has not confirmed this, but Jon Lester, who is Lackey's closest friend in baseball, said as much during the Cubs' celebration Wednesday after clinching the NL Central. "Tonight was probably (Lackey's) last regular-season start. Here's to one hell of a career," Lester said to teammates after Wednesday's game. The veteran righty certainly could find work if he wanted to after this season, but he doesn't really have anything left to prove, so it would make sense if he retired. Lackey has a career 188-146 record, 3.91 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and 19.1 percent strikeout rate. It is unclear if he will be a part of the postseason rotation.
Lackey (12-11) picked up the win over the Cardinals on Wednesday, allowing one run on two hits and two walks over six innings while striking out three. The veteran righty's first win in nearly a month was a big one, as the Cubs clinched the NL Central title with the victory. The team has yet to set their postseason rotation, but Lackey could slot in as their No. 4 starter given his 3.68 ERA in the second half.
Lackey allowed three runs on six hits and two walks over four innings in a no-decision Friday against Milwaukee. Lackey failed to complete the fifth inning for the second consecutive start. He was undone by back-to-back home runs off the bats of Stephen Vogt and Brett Phillips in the second inning and needed 77 pitches to get just 12 outs. Lackey's ERA sits at 4.67 and we should expect the Cubs to keep a short leash on him whenever he appears from here on out.
Lackey was ejected in the top of the fifth inning Friday against the Cardinals after giving up two runs on three hits and two walks while striking out four in 4.2 innings. Home plate umpire Jordan Baker failed to make a blatant strike three call and then Carlos Martinez laced the next pitch for an RBI single. Lackey then stormed to home plate, livid, and was tossed, along with catcher Willson Contreras. While Contreras likely faces a suspension after he bounced his face mask and it hit Baker in the leg, Lackey may not suffer any further punishment, despite the demonstrative nature of his tirade. The Cubs were losing 2-1 at the time of the ejection, so Lackey may wind up with the loss.
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