There have obviously been a whole lot of subplots to digest from the Red Sox’s first half. There was the rough first month. Then the resurgence. Then all the injuries, with the team still managing to keep its head above water.
But one thing has perplexed me for the last couple of months. What is the story with John Lackey?
Obviously, there were great expectations, and rightfully so, when the Red Sox signed Lackey for five years at $82.5 million.
The righty has been decidedly mediocre in the first half, culminating with today’s performance, when he gave up eight hits and seven runs over 4 2/3 innings against the Blue Jays.
Overall, Lackey is 9-5 with a 4.78 ERA in 18 starts. That ERA is nearly a run higher than his career ERA of 3.88. Opponents are hitting .298 against Lackey, 33 points above his career average.
Is it pitching in the American League East? Is it pitching in the pressure cooker of Boston? With the All-Star Game in Anaheim, it would have been a nice story for Lackey to get a ticket back here in a Boston uniform to pitch in his former home. But he never gave that much of a run.
Lackey has given precious little insight into why he isn’t the pitcher he was for all those years in Anaheim. It’s not as if Lackey has been horrible. Far from it. There have been plenty of nights when he’s given the Sox a solid chance to win. It’s just that he hasn’t really gotten locked into any kind of groove.
If he can do so in the second half, it would mean a lot to the Red Sox.