BOSTON — He has just four quality starts in 13 outings, has surrendered 60 earned runs in 72 1/3 innings pitched (7.47 ERA) and the Red Sox are 5-8 in games that he has started this season.
Meet John Lackey, possibly GM Theo Epstein's worst free agent signing.
Lackey gave the Red Sox almost no chance to win yesterday. And despite rallying, the Red Sox lost 9-7 here at Fenway Park in front of 38,072.
Send this guy to the bullpen once Clay Buchholz returns from the disabled list. Maybe even send him there before Buchholz returns and let Alfredo Aceves start in his place for the time being.
It doesn't matter how much money this burly right-hander is earning. Sure, he is making $15.25 million this year and will earn that same amount each of the next three seasons.
But he is just way too inconsistent. He is not keeping the Red Sox in games most of the time. And he often shows up his fielders when they don't make a play he feels they should have made while also making excuses for his poor performance.
Here is a statistic for you, John: All 60 of the runs you've given up this year have been earned. That means your fielders are not doing a bad job behind you. Actually, they are doing a pretty darn good job. Yet you continued to show them up even yesterday when you had next to nothing yourself, giving up seven earned runs on nine hits in 2 1/3 innings before being removed and being booed off the field possibly more than any Boston pitcher, including Daisuke Matsuzaka, has in recent memory.
The Fenway Faithful booing Lackey off the field has become a pretty routine occurrence this season.
"Overall, my arm felt pretty good," Lackey said. "Probably one of the better (games) it's felt as far as velocity and stuff like that. I just didn't locate well enough. ... I gave up some soft ones that fell in on some good pitches. And made some bad pitches that got hit hard."
Lackey has given up five or more runs in six of his 13 starts this season. He has given up seven or more runs in four different starts this season.
He said he just needs to continue to work hard between starts.
"I've made a lot of adjustments kind of on the fly," Lackey said. "And some of those will hopefully turn into some results real soon."
This poor performance came after Lackey pitched well in his previous start, going 7 2/3 innings and allowing just two earned runs to the Phillies in a 2-1 loss at Philadelphia.
"I thought the breaking ball he had the other day in Philly (was) a real good one," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "It wasn't there today. He left a couple up, especially (to) the last hitter."
When asked about his breaking ball, Lackey commented: "It probably wasn't as sharp, yeah."
Lackey is allowing way too many base runners. He has given up seven or more hits in eight of his 13 outings. He has given up at least nine hits in four of his 13 starts.
He is throwing his fastball 53.1 percent of the time this year in comparison to 58.7 percent of the time last year, according to fangraphs.com. And his fastball is averaging out at 90.8 MPH this year compared to 91.5 MPH last year.
"His velocity is staying pretty much consistent," Francona said. "I think, at times, movement and location is what's probably bothered him."
Lackey is throwing his slider more this year, going to it 20.5 percent of the time in comparison to 14.2 percent last year.
Meanwhile, MLB Network analyst Peter Gammons suggested last week on WEEI's Mut & Merloni Show that Tommy John surgery is a possibility for Lackey.
Lackey, Francona and Epstein all denied that report after it came out.
"With all the problems with Lackey's elbow, is this guy going to end up needing Tommy John surgery before August? That's something they have to decide," Gammons said, according to WEEI.com. "They've already lost Matsuzaka, and Lackey's been a physical issue all year."
When asked about his health yesterday, Lackey responded: "I've been pitching for 10 years, man. We're all hampered at this point in some way. But no excuse there. Definitely nothing that's going to keep me from pitching. ... I've felt a lot better since I've come off the DL."
Lackey admitted this has been the most puzzling stretch of his career.
"Yeah, you look at my career, it's pretty obvious," Lackey said.
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