Losing John Lackey to an injury in his first start after a grueling 16 months of Tommy John rehab is a tough break for both him and the Red Sox. Even though we still don’t know how long Lackey might be sidelined, he is expected to miss some time.
I feel bad for Lackey. I’ve been one of his biggest supporters during his comeback and felt he was primed for a big season. He can still have one if he is not out too long.
In the meantime, different guys must step it up in Lackey’s absence.
Dempster is a guy that didn’t get a lot of notice when he was signed in the off season. Frankly, he’s a guy that I didn’t personally consider a huge difference maker this season. He is a serviceable guy. A professional pitcher who can give a team innings but isn’t going to wow you.
But all that’s changed with this Lackey injury.
I’ve talked a lot about how the Red Sox need the trio of starters at the top of their rotation, namely Lester, Buchholz and Lackey, to carry them this year. Despite his injury history, I felt Lackey was capable of being that third guy.
He has the maturity, experience and bulldog mentality to be a leader on this staff and to give the Red Sox quality innings so they can stay in games.
Dempster has to be that guy now because I don’t have a lot of confidence in Aceves to do it directly.
Aceves’ attitude is questionable at best and, in his first two appearances in relief this season, he has allowed home runs in each. That doesn’t make me feel confident.
Despite what I might think about Dempster, his history indicates he is more than capable of being a mid-rotation starter. He’s a veteran and can pile up innings (more good than bad) and keep you in games. He can even throw in an occasional gem.
Although I think Lackey is better, Dempster is a similar pitcher and needs to give the Sox what Lackey was expected to give for as long as Lackey is out.
If he does, the Sox will be OK. If he doesn’t, John Farrell and Juan Nieves will need to find a long term answer for the rotation. Maybe Aceves is the answer or possibly Franklin Morales or Allen Webster. We’ll find out soon enough. But for now the spotlight will be on Dempster to improve the most.
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