Thursday, October 24, 2013

John Lackey has the ball - and fans' confidence

This time last year, no one could have imagined the scenario Red Sox fans are facing tonight. Not only are the Red Sox up 1-0 in the World Series (a pipe dream all on its own), but John Lackey is starting, and he has the full confidence of Red Sox Nation.

After the fallout from 2011's collapse, John Lackey was basically the poster boy for all the that plagued the Sox. Fans saw him as surly, lazy, and overpaid. The announcement that he would miss all of 2012 for Tommy John surgery was met with jeers rather than sympathy.

This season, he set out to turn his image around, and succeeded with flying colors. Despite the misleading 10-13 record, Lackey's ERA was a solid 3.52, his lowest since coming to Boston, and the third lowest of his eleven-year career. He struck out 161 players, while walking just 40.

If it's possible, he's been even more impressive this postseason, taking Game 2 of the ALDS against David Price and the Rays, and then outdueling Justin Verlander in Game 3 of the ALCS.

Indeed, Lackey's Game 3 start is probably the most underrated performance of the postseason - FOX was too busy drooling over Verlander to note the fact that John Lackey out-pitched him, shutting out that vaunted Tigers lineup for six and two-thirds innings.

Lackey's home-away splits are well documented, and with Clay Buchholz dealing with shoulder tightness, it makes sense for Lackey to start Game 2 tonight.

Via Baseball-Reference
I don't for a second believe the Cardinals will keep playing like they played last night. The Red Sox will have to battle going forward - but Lackey is the guy I want on the mound tonight.

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