If I were to tell you two years ago that John Lackey would be pitching at the elite level in 2013 as he did in his prime, you would think I was insane.
It still may sound crazy, but Lackey has been on a tear on the mound as of late. Has he returned to his old form?
The Boston Red Sox are fortunate to have Lackey finally performing up to expectations. The Sox were able to grab the pitcher via free agency back in the offseason of 2009, signing him to a five-year, $82.5 million contract.
Lackey pitched eight years with the Los Angeles Angels before becoming a free-agent. His best year as an Angel was in 2007. He posted a 19-9 record, while managing to own the lowest ERA in MLB at 3.01.
His worst season was in 2003. He posted a below .500, 10-16 record, while having a sub par 4.63 ERA. His career numbers as an Angel were a 102-71 record with a 3.81 ERA.
With elite career numbers, you would expect Lackey to immediately contribute to the Red Sox pitching rotation, right?
Sorry Beantown, but it sure did not work out that way. His first season in 2010 was surprising to say the least. With a 14-11 record and a 4.40 ERA, it looked as if Lackey would become a middle of the rotation pitcher and not the ace of the rotation as Boston hoped.
His second season in 2011 was atrocious. His record was even at 12-12, but his ERA skyrocketed to 6.41. This was also the worst ERA in Red Sox history for a starter with at least 150 innings pitched. How would Lackey be able to bounce back after this awful season?
Hoping to redeem himself in 2012, it was announced that Lackey would undergo Tommy John surgery on his throwing arm, causing him to miss the entire season. After much rehabilitation and an entire year to recover, Lackey is now putting up very good numbers this season, with a record of 6-5 and is eighth in the league with a 2.81 ERA.
The fact that he is in the top 10 of any category is a surprise. Lackey has not looked this sharp since his career year in 2007, and it looks like the 6-foot-6 right-hander could be possibly returning to his old form.