Lackey Falls Flat Once Again


There were a lot of groans across Red Sox nation when the Red Sox signed John Lackey to a monster 5-year, $85 million deal before the 2010 season. Most were not upset with the signing, rather believed the Red Sox rotation improved, but felt the price-tag seemed to be extremely exorbitant given Lackey’s solid, not amazing career numbers. Then the 2010 season came and went and most were disappointed in Lackey’s mediocre numbers because of the expectation $85 million brought along with it. He wasn’t up to par, but wasn’t awful either. Now in 2011, Lackey has been exponentially worse that 2010 and is having the worst season of his career by miles. After allowing 7 earned runs in 2.1 innings on July 4th, it begs the question, what should the Red Sox do with John Lackey?

Entering his 2nd straight July 4th start, Lackey had an awful 6.81 ERA and a poor 5-7 record. He had allowed 53 earned runs in 70 innings on 82 hits, all numbers that are extremely hard to swallow. He had already hit 9 batters, the same numbers as the previous 2 seasons in which he threw 176.1 and 215 innings respectively. His numbers are close to, if not the worst of his career in almost every statistical category. In 12 starts, he had pitched 8 innings twice and pitched less than 6 innings on 5 different occasions. He had allowed under 2 earned runs on only 2 occasions and all of those numbers were before he allowed 7 earned on 9 hits Monday afternoon against the Toronto Blue Jays, boosting his already horrid ERA to an airline soaring 7.47. With several promising young pitchers waiting in the wings, there is pressure on the Red Sox management to do something about Lackey.

There are many pieces of the Lackey saga that need to be considered. The 1st is salary. The Red Sox organization will not leave a guy with the salary like Lackey’s on the bench, because it is the admission of  a mistake and a misuse of funds.  The 2nd is value. Lackey has no trade value right now, so attempting to unload him and his inflated price is not going to happen without eating most of his contract. The 3rd is current injuries. The Red Sox are dealing with Clay Buchholz on the DL and Daisuke Matsuzaka on the DL for the season after needing Tommy John surgery. Now with Lackey’s issue, it would mean the Red Sox would be starting Andrew Miller, Tim Wakefield, and either Alfredo Aceves or another starter from Pawtucket (likely Felix Doubront) every single time through the rotation. As frustrating as Lackey is, having the three other starters mentioned above in the rotation is a recipe for trouble.

It appears for now that John Lackey will be in the starting rotation for a while, if not the rest of the season given the factors above. We all need to get used to 6-run+ outings from the former Angels ace and the Red Sox offense will just have to compensate with lots of runs, otherwise the losses will continue to pile up. After a nice, relaxing holiday weekend filled with my favorite 3 B’s (Beer, BBQ, and Beach), Lackey has jolted us back to reality and added a 4th B: Bad.

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