The Boston Red Sox managed to rebound from a tough Game 1 loss to the Detroit Tigers in the American League Championship Series, riding that momentum to a 2-1 edge in the series. In Game 3, which saw them grab the series lead, it was a victory that came thanks to a stroke of brilliance from John Lackey.
Brilliant and John Lackey aren’t necessarily terms that one would have expected to find related to each other coming into the regular season. He missed all of 2012 after undergoing surgery, following a disaster of a 2011 season with the Red Sox. His massive contract looked like a complete and total bust.
Yet, Lackey came into the 2013 season in the best shape of his career, and the results came along with it. The Red Sox haven’t had the most consistent rotation in all of baseball, but their front end has been, quietly, as good as anyone in the game. A big reason for that is the performance of Lackey, who has the look of a hurler in his prime.
That statement may include a touch of hyperbole, but there’s little to argue the fact that Lackey has looked as good in 2013 as he has for the last several years. Lackey came out and posted some of the best numbers of his career, in what was perhaps his best regular season campaign since 2005.
He tossed 189 innings, but posted a win-loss record that doesn’t necessarily reflect how good he was. His ERA for the year was at 3.52, he struck out 161 batters, and walked just 40, while posting an ERA+ of 116, his highest mark since 2008. Not bad for a guy who was just a season removed from surrendering more earned runs than any other starter in the American League.
His start against the Tigers earlier this week was just another example of how well he’s managed to rebound this season. He surrendered only four hits, walked none, and struck out eight across 6.2 innings of shutout ball, outdueling Detroit ace Justin Verlander.
The rebound for Lackey really has been something to see. This is a guy who posted one of the worst, if not the worst, season from a starter in Red Sox history back in 2011, but has come out like a champ in 2013, piecing together a brilliant year that has folks believing in him again.