BOSTON (CBS) — John Lackey will make his 2014 debut for the Red Sox on Wednesday night when he gets the start against the Baltimore Orioles.
Lackey finished 2013 with a 10-13 record, but he gave Boston 189.1 innings and sported a 3.52 ERA by the end of the season, giving the Red Sox a workhorse in the middle of their rotation. He followed that up with a 3-1 postseason, out-dueling Justin Verlander in Game 3 of the ALCS and earning the win in Boston’s World Series-clinching Game 6 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals at Fenway Park.
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This came after Lackey missed all of 2012 following Tommy John surgery and two less-than-stellar first seasons in Boston after signing an $82-million deal in 2010. So what can the Red Sox expect from the 35-year-old in 2014? The Providence Journal’s Tim Britton joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s The Adam Jones Show on Tuesday night to discuss Lackey, and after such a consistent season in 2013, he expects a small step back this season.
“I think it would be hard for him to match what he did a year ago, because he was so good and so consistent,” said Britton. “The thing that stands out from his year last year was that stretch when he came back in May through early September where it seemed like every game he went out and threw a quality start. He had [14 starts] where he went into the seventh inning, which is something no other guy on that staff did last year.”
“That consistency is what set him apart last year. I would expect a small step back this year,” Britton said. “If he can be reasonably close to what he was last year, which was his best or second-best season overall, or if he is in-line with his career record, I think that’s exactly what the Red Sox need out of him as a middle-rotation guy.”
On the other side of the ball, the Red Sox struggled on offense in their opening day loss. They scoring just one run, stranding 12 runners and going 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
“If there is a good reason to lose a game, it’s because you stranded too many guys,” said Britton, confident the offense will be OK. “That means that at least you got people on base. Situational hitting is cyclical, where you’re going to have streaks and cold streaks individually. As long as you get guys on base you’re going to be pretty good as an offense at the end.”