(CBS) With his Nos. 3-5 starters in the rotation continuing to display inconsistency and fail to go deep into games, Cubs manager Joe Maddon is keeping as open of a mind as he can with the playoffs approaching.
And that means if the Cubs advance to the NLDS for a longer series after a one-game wild-card playoff, he'll consider a "bullpen start" -- meaning Jason Hammel, Kyle Hendricks and Dan Haren (who's unlikely to make the playoff roster anyway) would sit and watch as several long relievers shared the workload before turning the ball over to the one- and two-inning hurlers.
"Of course -- you can consider almost anything," Maddon said in an interview on the Spiegel and Goff Show on Tuesday. "It just comes down to depth and how many pitchers you can carry on a playoff roster so you can fill out your bullpen throughout the event. Now if you have an Arrieta and a Lester, you would think both those guys are going to go more deeply into the game and (give the bullpen rest). So then you can maybe think outside the box with your thinking (later) in regards to all that. We haven't made up our mind about anything right now."
Barring a meltdown by the NL Central-leading Cardinals, the Cubs will face the Pirates in the wild-card game on Oct. 7 -- perhaps in Pittsburgh, perhaps in Chicago. Jake Arrieta is set to get the ball for the Cubs in that game. If they were to win, they'd then face the Cardinals in Game 1 of the NLDS on Oct. 9 in St. Louis. Game 2 would come Oct. 10, so Arrieta would only have two days rest at that point.
That's where the decision gets difficult for Maddon. Hammel is 9-6 with a 3.79 ERA and 1.15 WHIP this season, but he's registered a 6.41 ERA in September and has gone six innings in just two of his past 13 starts. Hendricks has also been inconsistent, with a 4.22 ERA for the season and a 4.91 ERA in September.
Long relievers Travis Wood (0.82 ERA in September), Trevor Cahill (1.46 ERA in six appearances with the Cubs) and Clayton Richard (3.95 ERA) have all been better of late, and Maddon's had far more praise for them than Hammel, who's essentially been in the doghouse for more than a month.
"I really like the work of Trevor absolutely and Clayton Richard," Maddon said. "And how about what Travis Wood has done lately?"
Listen to Maddon's full interview with Spiegel and Goff below. He also addresses and clarifies his feeling on concerts being held at Wrigley Field and what effect it has on the turf.
Joe Maddon on the Spiegel and Goff Show
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