John Lackey has become the Boston Red Sox‘ go-to guy during the 2013 Playoffs with a string of impressive performances.
Coming off Tommy John Surgery which made him miss all of the 2012 season, Lackey has turned back the clock and looks as dominant as ever. Watching him pitch in a high-pressure situation yesterday (bottom of the eighth up by only two runs at a hostile Busch Stadium) made me reminisce on how Lackey has managed to claw his way back to the top.
After a terrible debut campaign with the Red Sox and his ensuing surgery, Lackey’s career seemed destined for failure. Fortunately for Red Sox fans everywhere, he was able to control his very public weight and off-the-field issues, and be the most dominant he has ever been. He reminds me of Benjamin Button portrayed on the big screen by Brad Pitt, who gets younger over time.
I often questioned the reasoning behind then-GM Theo Epstein giving Lackey a huge five-year contract worth an estimated $82 million in 2009. He seemed to be a highly inconsistent pitcher back then and not worthy of such a high salary. He has taken the 2013 playoffs as the perfect scenario to silence his doubters, myself included. He has controlled his weight, is looking slender and more athletic, and is doing a better job of controlling his emotions.
Only time will tell if his magical run will end with a championship ring on his finger and jubilation at Fenway Park, but he can be very proud of his magical transformation.