“If I Were the Manager…” of John Lackey and Jason Heyward

As consistently excellent as the Chicago Cubs are, they are, as the old saying goes, only as good as their weakest link(s). This postseason, two of the weakest links for the best team in baseball have been two of their biggest offseason acquisitions, coincidentally both from the rival Cardinals, in Jason Heyward and John Lackey.

In 39 at-bats in these playoffs, Heyward is batting .128 with a slugging percentage of just .205. In other words, the 184-Million-Dollar Man has been statistically worse at the plate than four of the Cubs’ pitchers, including 12 strikeouts for the newest Cubbie.

On the mound, Lackey has been similarly disappointing since the end of the regular season. Coming into Game 4, he had started two games for Chicago, ending in an ERA of 5.63 on 10 hits and four walks in his two four-inning starts. This was only marginally helped by the five innings of three-run ball thrown on Saturday, which is the most telling of Lackey’s struggles this postseason: that giving up two earned runs over five innings helped his ERA.

These dismal stats aside, both of these players were in play in the fourth game of the World Series, a game that was almost a must-win for Chicago as going down 3-1 in a best-of-seven series is essentially sealing your fate. In addition to this, Heyward has seen the plate in all but Game 1 of the series, and he “earned” his first start in this must-win Game 4.

As I’m sure you can guess, I am not a fan of the start for either player in this game or any game in which the Cubs need a win. And while it was nearly unavoidable for the Cubs to skip or replace Lackey in the rotation, it is completely possible to sit Jason Heyward on the bench for a stern talking-to and a timeout for his poor hitting.

If I were the manager, Jason Heyward would not see the field until a possible Game 6 in which the Cubs have momentum and aren’t as backed into a corner, and John Lackey would be finished pitching for the rest of the postseason.

Think you know more than Joe Maddon and Terry Francona? Keep up with our “If I Were the Manager” series, in which writer Jacob Lintner provides his view on a key point in each game of the 2016 World Series, and let Jacob know how you feel about his suggestions on Twitter @FHNtoday or @TheJacobLintner.

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