Lackey's first season in a Red Sox uniform was not quite as glorious as expected. His Hits/9, WHIP, opponents' batting average and on-base percentage are all the worst of his nine-year career. He has the lowest K/9 since his rookie season of 2002 and depending on how he does today, he may set a career high in walks. He is 8th in MLB in most earned runs allowed. He turns 32 on October 23 and his 5/82.5 contract runs through 2014.
Lackey's history of minimizing his own suckitude and blaming others for his poor performance is well known. You may remember his whiny comments after he and his Angels lost the 2008 ALDS to Boston:
We are way better than they are. We lost to a team not as good as us. ... The last two days, we shouldn't have given up anything. ... [On Sunday] they scored on a pop fly they called a hit, which is a joke. [On Monday], they score on a broken-bat ground ball and a fly ball anywhere else in America [except in Fenway Park]. And [Pedroia's] fist-pumping on second like he did something great.Lackey won't win the 2010 Cy Young Award, but he is a shoo-in for this year's CYA -- the Cover Your Ass award.
End of April: Lackey has a 5.09 ERA after four starts. He has three quality starts and an ugly outing against the Rays on April 19, in which he allowed eight runs on nine hits before leaving in the fourth inning.
Everything has been fine outside of that game. I've been pretty happy with how I've pitched.May 16 at Detroit: Lackey walks four Tigers in the first two innings, and allows nine hits in seven innings. The Red Sox lose 5-1.
I threw the ball a lot better than the [stat] line will show. I mean, you have that infield single to get their first run. ... If a couple of things went a little different, it could have been a different outcome.May 21 at Philadelphia: The Red Sox lose 5-1 to the Phillies, as Lackey allows six hits and four runs. In his last three starts, he has allowed 17 hits, 12 walks, and 15 runs.
I gave up the one homer that probably doesn't go out anywhere but here ... [A] break here or there and it could have been a lot different. ... It's been a little tough luck here and there and lack of execution a little bit, too.Is Lackey concerned about walking so many batters?
Not at all. ... I think only one of them scored. That's all that matters.May 26 at Tampa Bay: Red Sox rout the Rays 11-3. Lackey allows eight hits and four walks in 6.1 innings, but gives up only two runs.
Honestly, that's probably the best I've thrown the ball.June 1 vs Oakland: The Red Sox win 9-4 and Lackey gets the win. He is tagged for 12 hits in six innings, but allows only four runs.
Honestly, it's a little frustrating, 'cause I thought I did better than what some of the numbers are going to show. We won the game, so who really cares? ... I pitch to contact and I haven't had the greatest luck with some of that. I've had a lot of balls on the ground that have gotten through, a few balls kind of fell in tonight ...Lackey is averaging 4.4 walks per nine innings, the highest rate of his career, and nearly double his 2009 rate. He's also averaging two fewer strikeouts per nine innings (5.1) than he did last season.
[I]t's no big deal. I've looked at some of those walks and they weren't really walks. I've gone back and looked. My control is not as bad as it seems.Lou Merloni, WEEI, June 7:
Lackey can be very emotional on the mound whether it's reacting to a call he didn't like or showing displeasure when one of his teammates make an error behind him. ... I talked to Lack about that and he swears that he's not trying to show anybody up, but let's just say this, it doesn't look good. Showing up Darnell McDonald is one thing, but when you slam your glove to the ground after a Dustin Pedroia error ... not good.June 23 at Colorado: Lackey allows 10 hits and five runs in 6.2 innings. The Rockies beat the Red Sox 8-6.
I honestly felt probably about as good as I have all year. ... I feel like they hit some pretty good pitches tonight.July 4 vs Baltimore: Lackey pitches 7.1 innings against the Orioles, allowing eight hits and three runs, and the Red Sox lose 6-1. Terry Francona: "I thought today was the best stuff he's had all year.
Yeah, he was probably right. ... We are right there in the race, and I think I've been part of that. Out of my 17 starts, my four losses are about the only ones I didn't give us a chance to win in.July 10 at Toronto: The Red Sox lose 9-5 as Lackey allows three runs to the Blue Jays in the first inning and finishes with six walks.
It would have been [a decent performance] if they hadn't had that lucky hit down the line, let's be honest. That's kind of the way things have been going for me.July 17 vs Texas: Lackey does well (7-7-2-2-3, 115) and the Red Sox win 3-2.
About as good as I've been this year, for sure. Even the hits I gave up for the runs, I threw them right where I wanted to. ... They were strong enough to kind of get them over the infield.August 2 vs Cleveland: Lackey allows nine hits, five walks and six runs as the Red Sox lose 6-5.
First three innings, probably some of the best stuff I've had all year. ... Fifth inning, I got a little unlucky, giving up a run there.August 7 at New York: Lackey allows eight hits and five runs in six innings and the Red Sox lose to the Yankees 5-2. Lackey gives up four consecutive singles in the fifth that results in two runs and breaks a 2-2 tie.
In the fifth inning I made a lot of good pitches and, honestly, they kind of nickel-and-dimed me to death there. ... I definitely feel like I threw the ball better than the numbers would indicate. I had good stuff.Does Lackey feel like he's been the victim of bad luck and unfortunate bounces all season?
Maybe a little, but I don't know what I can do. ... It is what it is.August 18 vs Los Angeles: The Red Sox win 7-5, but Alberto Callaspo hits a three-run home run off Lackey down the right field line.
I don't think that's a homer in a whole lot of places. It is what it is. It's probably the only place that's a homer.August 23 vs Seattle: Lackey is no match for the Mariners (8-6-3-2-2-10) and the Red Sox win 6-3.
It's been a strange year. ... It seems like there's been one or two times where I've given up some runs that haven't happened in the past. For the most part, I've given us a chance to win quite a bit. ... The first six innings are probably the best I've felt location-wise.August 29 at Tampa Bay: Lackey allows five runs in 6.1 innings and the Red Sox lose 5-3. Boston is now 14-13 in Lackey's starts and he has allowed an AL-high 201 hits in 176 innings.
I felt way too good to give up five runs, for sure. I gave up probably three hard-hit balls all night. ... [I] probably threw the ball as good as I've thrown the ball in years. ... I definitely feel like I've thrown the ball better than what the numbers are this year. But at this point, I can't do too much about it.Mike DiGiovanna, Los Angeles Times, July 26, 2008:
John Lackey hates making excuses...