Player Profile: At the height of his career, John Lackey embodied the idea of the “Texas Flamethrower” probably better than anyone not named Roger Clemens. Maybe it’s a bit cliché, but time after time, big, strong, often right-handed starters come out of Texas and throw serious heat. Lackey’s fastball won’t blow anyone away, it’s averaged 91.4 mph but he can reach back and dial it up to somewhere between 94 and 96mph. Lackey mixes in a handful of secondary offerings, most mutably a slider, a changeup and a curveball to compliment his heat. Lackey it known for his bulldog mentality and his fierce competitiveness, having once refused to hand the ball to then-manager, Tom Kotchman, while pitching in the Angels’ minor league system.
2013 in Review: I think most of Red Sox Nation gasped when Lackey appeared to have re-injured his right arm during his first start since 2011 against the Toronto Blue Jays. Luckily though, Lackey was only sidelined for two weeks and came roaring back against the Astros on the 28th of that month, earning his first win in just over 18 months. Lackey earned the win in the final game of the 2013 World Series as well, becoming the first pitcher to clinch the winning game of the World Series with two different teams. While the record, 10-13, was less than sterling, Lackey was the model of consistency throughout the summer, providing a rock as the rest of the starters slowed down the stretch. Lackey posted 161 strikeouts, his most since 2007, throughout 189.1 innings pitched to go with a 3.52 ERA, his third lowest of his career, and lowest since joining the Red Sox.
2014 Outlook: If Lackey stays with the team I think it’s fair to expect some mild regression from the 35-year-old right-hander, who will play the last guaranteed year of his 5-year deal in 2014. I say ‘if’ because the Red Sox could look to sell high on Lackey to help alleviate their excess of veteran starting pitching. Both the Steamer and Oliver projection models predict regression in most, if not all statistical categories in 2014. Should Lackey stick around, it will probably be as third or fourth starter, behind the one-two punch of Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz and possibly Jake Peavy as well.