John Lackey showed the potential impact that he could have on the Boston Red Sox starting rotation this season after his last two performances in the Red Sox rotation.
The 34-year-old Lackey had his best start of the season for the Red Sox against the Cleveland Indians yesterday, beating the Indians 8-1. Lackey gave the Red Sox seven strong innings with only two hits and one unearned run.
The significant part of this start is that it is coming on the heels of defeating the Minnesota Twins last Sunday, leading Boston to a 5-1 win and a three-game sweep. Combined in the last two starts, Lackey has only given up three hits in his last 13 innings with no earned runs and 13 strikeouts.
This is exactly the type of performance that the Red Sox had hoped to be receiving from the fourth and fifth spots of the rotation, but have been struggling to receive from Felix Doubront and Ryan Dempster.
Lackey’s return this season has been much better than anticipated so far. His recovery from surgery has finally allowed him to display some of the form that he showed while he was the ace of the Los Angeles Angels’ pitching staff for years.
While Lackey’s 3-4 record doesn’t jump off the page, his ability to average more than five innings per start is a good sign as he develops stamina that will likely improve as the season wears on. His fastball looks to be improved, which has allowed better separation between all of his pitches.
The main numbers that stick out for Lackey are the 2.72 ERA, his ability to average a strikeout per inning and also his ability to keep his hits allowed even with his innings pitched. For a pitcher who has given up far more hits than innings pitched during his first two seasons in a Red Sox uniform, it is a telling sign.
The Red Sox are going to have to fight through a stretch right now to overcome injuries, it is extremely important that Lackey continues to give the Red Sox bullpen a break with these types of performances.
In a season where the Red Sox have exceeded expectations, this is a really important development.