Manager Joe Maddon thought it was necessary to carry 13 pitchers early in the season to avoid taxing the bullpen.
But even before the marathon game Sunday against the Washington Nationals, which saw him use up his bench a second consecutive game, Maddon admitted things could change.
“Especially in the beginning of the year, we try not to overwork anyone [in the bullpen],’’ Maddon said. ‘‘But at some point, you have to determine what will happen more consistently — a depleted bench or pitching.’’
Maddon has allowed starting pitchers to take at-bats later in games to avoid using up pinch hitters. He let Jason Hammel hit for himself in the fifth Saturday.
Hammel ended up pinch-hitting Sunday in the 10th because Maddon had depleted the bench.
Reliever Trevor Cahill already had hit for himself in the seventh — helping the team score two runs to tie the game — to save the last bench player, Javy Baez.
Baez came on in the eighth to pinch-hit and stayed in the game at third base. He hit a walk-off home run in the 13th.
“It’s obviously a concern in a National League game,’’ Maddon said, adding that one of the early questions he had when he became the Cubs’ manager was how often pinch hitters were used compared to the American League.
“[Carrying 13 pitchers] is a discussion we’ve had since spring training.’’
That number stayed the same as Neil Ramirez was reinstated from the bereavement list after the death of his grandmother. Right-hander Spencer Patton was optioned back to Class AAA Iowa.
Speaking of pitchers
The starters have compiled a string of 38 games working through at least five innings — the longest streak for a Cubs rotation since 1910.
Don’t let him beat you
Bryce Harper drew 13 walks in the series, including six Sunday, three of them intentional. Harper also reached base as a hit batter in the sixth, so he had no official at-bats. Each intentional walk came with two men already on base.
Only six players in major-league history have had six walks in a game, the last being the Houston Astros’ Jeff Bagwell on Aug. 20, 1999, against the Florida Marlins.
“I know he wasn’t as hot as he could be coming into this series, but I didn’t want to get him started,’’ Maddon said.
Words of wisdom
When Maddon heard that Kris Bryant called him a genius, he smiled.
“I’ll say goofy things in the dugout, and sometimes they happen,’’ he joked. “If you say the same stupid stuff enough times, eventually it comes true.’’
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