It might be Kevin Millwood time in Boston

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The early reports are encouraging on Josh Beckett’s hyperextended left knee, but what if Boston is forced to place him on the disabled list alongside Jon Lester (lat), Clay Buchholz (back) and Daisuke Matsuzaka (elbow)?

Such a move could leave the Red Sox with a rotation of John Lackey, Tim Wakefield, Andrew Miller, Kyle Weiland and Kevin Millwood, if only for a week or two.

And what a far cry that would be from a postseason-worthy rotation.

Lackey has a jumbo-jet-like ERA of 7.47.  The 44-year-old Wakefield is at 4.74.  Miller has been pretty impressive since his callup, going 3-0 with a 3.57 ERA.  However, he went 1-5 with an 8.54 ERA for Florida last year.

Weiland will be making his major league debut in Lester’s place Sunday.

Millwood just gave up four runs in five innings for Triple-A Pawtucket tonight. He had a nice run last month in which he allowed a total of five runs in four starts, but he’s now struggled in two of three outings.  Overall, he has a 4.50 ERA in eight starts for Pawtucket.

An alternative to calling on Millwood would be to move Alfredo Aceves from the bullpen to the rotation.  Another would be to bring up left-hander Felix Doubront.  Doubront pitched seven scoreless innings for Pawtucket two days ago and is 1-3 with a 3.38 ERA in 12 starts this season.

Hopefully, it won’t come to any of that.  Beckett might be ready to start in the first series back after the All-Star break.  The hope is that Lester will make it back before the end of the month and that Buchholz could return in early August.  So, the Red Sox still have plenty of time to get their rotation ready for October.  The key will be making it through the next few weeks without doing too much damage to their chances of getting there.

Cubs won’t make Kyle Schwarber available in trade talks

Kyle Schwarber
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Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Cubs won’t deal Kyle Schwarber this winter, despite multiple inquires from teams around the league. Schwarber is approaching his first year of arbitration and will remain under team control for another three seasons before reaching free agency in 2022.

The decision comes on the heels of one of the strongest seasons of the 25-year-old outfielder’s short career. Over 137 games and 510 PA for the Cubs, he proved a passable defender in left field and batted .238/.356/.467 with 26 home runs, an .823 OPS, and 3.2 fWAR in 2018. He also led the National League in intentional walks, with 20, and bumped up his total walks from 59 in 2017 to 78.

Despite his marked improvements from previous years, Schwarber’s performance still left something to be desired — specifically against left-handed pitchers, who held the slugger to a paltry .224/.352/.303 with four extra-base hits across 91 PA. Still, it’s evident the Cubs feel Schwarber is capable of strengthening his splits in the years to come, and they might stand to get more value from him on the field than they would in a trade this offseason.

Of course, that’s not to say the Cubs intend to pass the Winter Meetings in total silence, especially as they’ll be seeking bullpen and catching depth in advance of their 2019 run at the division title. As club president Theo Epstein remarked last week, “We’re certainly open and active in trade talks with a lot of deals that usually don’t come to fruition. So, we may make some trades. We could make big ones that transform the roster. We may make smaller complementary ones. But there’s certain things we’d like to accomplish.”