For Pete's Sake

‘Did Wade Davis get left in Albuquerque?’ Cubs’ Joe Maddon second-guessed after loss

Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon yelled during Game 1
Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon yelled during Game 1 Tribune News Service

Travel days in the playoffs are a great time for players to get some rest, both physically and mentally.

Unfortunately for Cubs manager Joe Maddon, he’ll face two days of intense criticism after a baffling decision Sunday night to use John Lackey instead of Wade Davis in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series.

With the score tied 1-1 in the bottom of the ninth inning in Los Angeles, the Dodgers had a runner on second with two outs. Lackey came into the game, issued a walk and then served up a three-run homer to Justin Turner. Thanks to the 4-1 win, the Dodgers now have a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

After the game, Maddon said Davis could only pitch one inning, and Maddon was waiting for a save situation, which obviously never came.

The reaction to Maddon’s decision has not been kind.

“If Maddon has a bonus clause for crazy, then he just cashed it by getting beat with his, I don’t know, fifth-best pitcher,” wrote Steve Rosenbloom of the Chicago Tribune. “...The ninth would’ve been a good inning, if that was going to be the only one.”

Yahoo Sports’ Chris Cwik wrote: “It’s not hyperbole to say that, by going to Lackey, Maddon made the worst possible decision. He didn’t turn to his other relievers, Hector Rondon or Mike Montgomery. He instead went to Lackey, the pitcher with both the highest ERA (4.59) and home run rate (1.90) on his NLCS roster. Lackey, who over his 15-year career has only made two appearances as a reliever. Lackey, who made his third-ever relief appearance Saturday night, and was pitching on zero days rest for the first time in his career. That’s who Maddon sent out to the mound with the game on the line.”

Steve Greenberg of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote: “Maddon made the interesting point that warming up Davis — who was taxed to the max in a two-plus-inning save Thursday night in Washington — would’ve taken an equal toll to using him in the game, and it was better to keep his arm quiet altogether unless there was no question his services would be needed. Which, um, they weren’t?”

The response wasn’t much better on Twitter, as a former Cubs pitcher and baseball journalists wondered why Maddon made that choice:

Fans compared Maddon to Royals manager Ned Yost and Cardinals skipper Mike Matheny.

Pete Grathoff: 816-234-4330, @pgrathoff