Inbox: Do Cubs have too many starters?

Pitching is the hot topic in this week's Cubs Inbox.

I know you say you can never have too much starting pitching, but look at the Cubs in 2019: Jon Lester, Jose Quintana, Kyle Hendricks, Yu Darvish, Tyler Chatwood, Drew Smyly (coming off Tommy John surgery), Mike Montgomery and an option on Cole Hamels, plus any Triple-A Iowa Cubs or free agents. Did they overdo it? Outside of Montgomery, there are a lot of big contracts (for example, Chatwood) to be a middle reliever, assuming he loses out to Smyly or Hamels. 
-- Tim O., Cedar Falls, Iowa

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The Cubs acquired more pitching because you can never have enough -- and that has become evident in the past few days. They were counting on Darvish in September. On Tuesday, he was declared out for the season with a stress reaction in his elbow and a triceps strain. Montgomery has a 3.08 ERA as a starter, but he is now on the disabled list because of inflammation in his left shoulder. Smyly has yet to make a Minor League rehab start. Chatwood's contract, by the way, has nothing to do with whether he starts or relieves. He had a good relief outing against the Nationals, but unfortunately, he struggled against the Pirates on Saturday.

Have the Cubs considered reaching out to John Lackey as a potential starter? I bet he's tan, rested and ready and will give the team that "edge" they've been missing since they won it all in 2016.
-- Rich B., Suwanee, Ga.

Lackey is tan and rested, but being ready to pitch is something else. I believe he's ridden off into the sunset.

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I've been following the Cubs all my life, and I remember the starting pitching being heavy on right-handers. Now, with Lester, Hamels, Montgomery and Quintana, they have four lefties. Has there been a time when the Cubs had four or more lefties in the rotation?
-- Mike P., Buckeye, Ariz.

This is the first time the Cubs have started four lefties since Sept. 21-23, 1966, when Ken Holtzman, Dave Dowling, Curt Simmons and Dick Ellsworth did so.

Has there been any thought about promoting Dakota Mekkes from Iowa? He has had a meteoric rise through the Minors. Seems to me we might have the answer to our bullpen needs in-house.
-- Steve P., Effingham, Ill.

Mekkes is not on the 40-man roster, and I haven't heard his name mentioned yet. He is on the fast track. For those who don't know, the right-hander compiled a 0.81 ERA in 16 games at Double-A Tennessee, striking out 30 over 22 1/3 innings. So far with Iowa, Mekkes has a 1.65 ERA in 21 games, with 32 strikeouts over 27 1/3 innings. He was a 10th-round Draft pick in 2016 out of Michigan State.

I know 15 or so of the Cubs' top prospects in the Minors are pitchers. Are any of them ready to come up and help this year? Or in the next two years?
-- Michael H., Las Vegas, Nev.

Of the Cubs' top 12 prospects on MLB Pipeline's list, only two were at Iowa -- Duane Underwood Jr. and Adbert Alzolay. Alzolay is out for the season with an injury. Be patient with the kids. The Cubs like the young pitching talent, and they are looking ahead to 2019 and '20.

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It's been well documented that Anthony Rizzo is putting up big numbers at leadoff. What's the Cubs' record with each of the leadoff guys we've had this year?
-- Brock B., Mesa, Ariz.

Here are the players, number of games and the team's record:

Albert Almora Jr.: 40 games (25-15)
Rizzo: 28 games (16-12)
Ben Zobrist: 27 games (16-11)
Ian Happ: 13 games (7-6)
Kris Bryant: 7 games (4-3)
Javier Baez: 4 games (3-1)
Tommy La Stella: 3 games (0-3)
Willson Contreras: 1 game (0-1)

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