Mysteriously mediocre

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.

12 Comments

Yeah, Lackey has been less than impressive this year – he had a career ERA of 5+ at Fenway , so why did Theo think he was a good acquisition? 82 million dollars for Lackey, 100 million for Dice K, tens of millions to bad back Beckett. Monopoly money. Nice work if you can get it.

I think the last point is the key here. He has been FAR from horrible, merely mediocre – that makes me think he’ll come good; Hopefully in the 2nd half. The starting rotation doesn’t bother me too much – given their history of performing well (I’m talking about Josh and Dice here) I suspect they’ll all come good sooner rather than later. The thing that worries me is the bullpen.

I agree with Justin. I might as well say that Lackey and Dice-K are mediore or little less at most and not necessarily horrible. Both pitchers kept the team in the game most of the time. As to $$$, it’s John Henry’s $$. Once Bucky and Beck return, the rotation will be better than fine. The concern is the bp. Other than Bard and Paps, it is a gurantee that the relievers will give up at least one run at each appearance. Theo isn’t going to address the bp issue unless JF and Francona come up to Theo and say we have a problem..Maybe they did and Theo is doing on the deal.

Justin: I hope that you’re right. Because they is not that much “sooner” left. I hope that the lock on the RedSox wallet is opening in time for the deadline.
They need to acquire BP help AND another solid bat.
Onward and upward, get BACK ON TRACK TODAY!

they=there

ps. should have won that one with the Yankees losing yesterday.. that would have been great especially with DiceK pitching today.

Speaking of mysterious, if not mediocre — why does Tito and/or Farrell never seem to learn about managing their pitchers better in games? You get an unbelievably unexpected gift in 6 scoreless innings from Dice-K — and you got the All-Star game coming up — I would have had Bard in their period (thank you very much Dice-K) — and for sure after the first hit. But no, lets wait until the Jays score two more runs, and leave the game at risk. Bard does his part — but now (at least) — we only have a one game cushion for Papelbon (one of the other mysterious personalities this year). We all know a 1 run lead is not necessarily safe in Papelbon’s hands — when we could have handed in a 3 game cushion easily — just a little more preventative maintenance up front by Tito or Farrell, not sure who is habitually late in pulling the trigger of Dice-K and Wake for that matter, probably Lackey too now.

Tito logics prevails, thankfully!

I think Lackey just needs to adjust to the Fenway Faithful. In SoCal the fans are passionate in a subdued way. Win or lose, that’s OK, just as long as they have their white wine and Brie. The Sox-crazed, berserk fans at Fenway are a stark contrast to that. But Lackey has enough fight in him and enough competitive drive to get with the program and adjust.

Great win for Francona and the Sox. Tito pushed all the right buttons and sent in the right plays for today’s game. “Scutaro, get a double. McDonald! Home run! Papi, Home run! Let’s go fellas!! Throw strikes.” Well done Tito.

I have to say: even though Tito won the game for the Sox; MADDON, genius that he is, would have figured out a way to have the Jays’ runs counted in the Sox’ favor and we’d have won it 5 to nothing. Haha.

I cringed when the Sox signed Lackey to a long term contract this past winter. He was coming off an injured ’09 with the Angels and was certainly not the power pitcher he once was. A fastball topping out at 92 is not going to cut it with big league hitters unless it’s located well and backed by adequate secondary pitches. When Lackey is not hitting the corners or getting the borderline tosses called in his favor it’s an obvious struggle for everyone but the opposing team. He simply cannot continue to pitch in the mold of a strikeout hurler when he no longer has the juice to back it up. He needs to alter his approach the way Schilling did in the ’07 post season; our storied ace recognized he could no longer overpower the other team, but instead could utilize more change ups and mix speeds deeper in counts, relying on control and location to compensate for lack of mph. (How the front office thought he could come back for yet another season, which obviously he didn’t, was beyond me). Granted, this is a huge mental shift for a pitcher of Lackey’s pedigree, but to continue on this path of inconsistency is unacceptable. We all know Lackey is a fierce competitor, but I never appreciate how he yips and barks when the team behind him flubs a grounder or misplays a pop fly. Just watch the next time Scutaro fumbles a Baltimore chop when Lackey’s on the bump to witness the true character of this Number 3 who still thinks he should be a Number 1. How many more years do we have left with this guy? Please, for the love of all things sacred, someone in the clubhouse tell him he’s no John Lester and needs to swallow his pride and learn to throw with the stuff he has now, and not the stuff he remembers having in years past. Hell, the guy may be hurt and not letting on. We’ve had to endure that routine with another well-compensated “ace” who also signed a long term contract that has proven adequate at best.

I’m glad we have Lackey, but his contract is way more than the quality of pitcher he is. Everyone called him an Ace, but if you look at he career stats, he has only had one dominant year. Most years he won 10-13 games. That’s a good pitcher, but not an ace in my book. If he wins six more games this year he will have the second best win total of his career! In my opinion, his agent took Theo (and the others who were bidding) to the cleaners. He is a good number 3 or 4 starter, and that is exactly what he has been for the Sox.

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