clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Cubs’ John Lackey says tight shoulder is “nothing crazy”

The Cubs starter aroused concern from his manager during Sunday night’s start.

St Louis Cardinals v Chicago Cubs Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images

When a pitcher hits his late thirties, the grinds and creaks start to get a little more audible. That’s not to say hurlers can’t be effective as they approach forty, just that baseball is a ravenous beast that feasts on human body parts. It’s not surprising to see a guy like John Lackey, 37 years old and with 17 years of professional baseball behind him, suffer through some wear and tear late in the season.

As Lackey shook his arm following two separate pitches in the seventh inning of the Cubs’ 6-4 loss to the Cardinals on Sunday night, Joe Maddon picked up on it. Not messing around, the Cubs manager got his starter out of there. It’s mid-August, and the first place Cubs are clearly thinking playoffs, so losing a starter that has given them a 3.40 ERA over 158.1 IP this season would be a blow.

Fortunately, after the game, Lackey was passing out reassurances.

“I’m okay,” Lackey said. “The extra bullpen session was probably not the best for me. I’ve been a little tight since then. But nothing crazy. Trust me, I’ve been out there feeling a lot worse. I’ll be all right.”

Lackey has been considerably more effective with the help of a slider and change-up in his arsenal, as well as a more copacetic dynamic with his 24-year-old receiver, Wilson Contreras. He has seen an influx of at-bats ending with called third strikes, and right-handed batters can only touch him at a clip of .193. In six starts since the All-Star break, he has a 2.59 ERA and 5.1 SO/W (Compared to 3.3 SO/W in the first half).

Lackey has been praised by teammates and coaches for his enthusiasm in wanting to pitch, even as a reliever. He was ready to go during an extra-inning contest against the Mariners on July 31, but the Cubs didn’t wind up needing him. Lackey got loose again on Thursday night when the Cubs and Cards extended game one of their series into free baseball, but Anthony Rizzo’s walk-off walk made his potential appearance unnecessary. Lackey pointed to that extra work as the probable reason his shoulder clenched up on him against St. Louis.