McAdam: Numbers don't lie, Lackey's been brutal


McAdam: Numbers don't lie, Lackey's been brutal

By Sean McAdam Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Can we stop now? Please?

Can we stop with all the talk that John Lackey, in spite of his bloated ERA, is, you know, really pitching better than the numbers suggest because of all those wins? Can we stop suggesting that Lackey isn't really all that bad, and that the second half of the season has seen Lackey pitch much better?

Because it's not true. Any of it.

Take Friday night as an example. The Red Sox had lost three of four in Toronto, seven of 10 overall and came into Tropicana Field needing to throw Tampa Bay off their scent.

The Rays trailed the Red Sox by six games in the loss column before the game. A loss would have dropped them back another game, stripped them of any momentum and essentially forced them to win the final two games of the series to pick up any ground in the standings.

The previous two nights, Red Sox starters (Tim Wakefield and Andrew Miller) failed to get past the fifth inning. The bullpen was used up, and with both Josh Beckett and Erik Bedard being skipped this series due to injury, the Sox needed someone to eat up innings and keep them in the game.

And come to think of it, isn't that the mantra of the (dwindling) number of Lackey backers? That Lackey's numbers may not be inspiring, but he competes and, most nights, gives his team a chance?

Instead, Lackey gave up three runs in the second, two more in the third and didn't come out for the fourth inning. Trailing 5-0 after three, the Sox instead turned to Scott Atchison, hoping he could do what Lackey couldn't.

(Officially, the Red Sox suggested that Lackey left the game with a contusion of the calf, suffered when John Jaso lined a comebacker off his leg in the bottom of the third. But that seems like windrow dressing. With 69 pitches thrown to get nine outs, Lackey was on his way to a quick shower, comebacker or no comebacker).

Friday's start marked the ninth time in 25 starts this season that Lackey has given up five or more runs in an outing. Or, more than once every three tries.

Even before Fright night's debacle, Lackey ranked 44th in ERA among A.L. starters with at least 140 innings. If you're wondering who was 45th, the answer is: no one.

Among regular starters, Lackey has the worst ERA in the league. And it's not particularly close. With Lackey at 6.11 -- of course, his ERA went to 6.30 after Friday's stinker -- the next closest ERA belonged to Minnesota's Brian Duensing at 5.34.

In other words, Lackey is almost a full run worse than the 43rd best pitcher in the American League.

Just in case you think that ERA isn't a proper barometer, know that Lackey also ranks dead last in OPS allowed (.852); tied for last in fewest number of quality starts (eight); and second-to-last in WHIP (1.57).

The only category in which Lackey is among the league-leaders is run support, where he ranks fourth in the American League.

That would explain his 12 wins, because surely nothing else about his pitching does.

When Lackey had his "run'' in which he went 7-1 over nine starts, his ERA was (italics please) still (end italics) over 4.00 (4.10, to be precise). The only way you 87.5 percent of your decisions while giving up better than four runs per nine innings is to have your teammates score runs by the bucketload in support.

That's what happened to Lackey. Any suggestion that he had executed some sort of turnaround is laughable.

Forget the salary and the attendant expectations. Evaluated on his own outings, Lackey has consistently been the worst starter in the American League this season -- and no amount of re-arranging the numbers can deflect that.

Sean McAdam can be reached at Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Eduardo Rodriguez strong, Red Sox down Mariners for 5th straight win

Eduardo Rodriguez strong, Red Sox down Mariners for 5th straight win

BOSTON (AP)  Eduardo Rodriguez pitched six scoreless innings and the Boston Red Sox took advantage of a sloppy performance by the Seattle Mariners to earn their season-high fifth straight win, 3-0 on Friday night.

It was the third consecutive win for Rodriguez (4-1), who went six innings, gave up just five hits and struck out four while throwing a season-high 112 pitches. Craig Kimbrel earned his 13th save.

Rodriguez has pitched at least six innings in his last seven starts, going 4-0 in that span.

The only run support Rodriguez needed came in the second inning, when Hanley Ramirez scored on Josh Rutledge's RBI groundout. Boston added two more runs in the sixth, scoring on a wild pitch and passed ball.

Yovani Gallardo (2-5) took the loss. He lasted 5 1/3 innings, gave up seven hits and was responsible for all three of Boston's runs. Seattle has won just one of its last seven.

Meanwhile, Boston gave Rodriguez got lots of help from his defense. Jackie Bradley Jr. had a pair of nice plays, getting an outfield assist in the second and running down another ball on the warning track in the sixth.

In addition to the pitching miscues, the Mariners had all kinds of issues in the wet conditions, committing two fielding errors.

The Red Sox left 11 runners on base, leaving the door open for the Mariners to get back in the game. But Seattle couldn't capitalize, going 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position. The Mariners also left seven runners stranded.


Mariners: LHP James Paxton (strained left forearm) was slated to make a rehab start Friday night in Double-A Arkansas. He has been on the 10-day disabled list since May 5. He could be activated for a start at the end of the month against Colorado.

Red Sox: Infielder Marco Hernandez will be out the remainder of the season after undergoing stabilization surgery on his left shoulder on Friday. Hernandez was placed on the disabled list May 4 with a left shoulder misalignment. The 24-year-old hit .276 with two RBI in 21 games. ... A night after he left the game with left knee pain, 2B Dustin Pedroia was held out Friday for what manager John Farrell said was "precautionary reasons" because of the wet playing surface.


Mariners: RHP Rob Whalen (0-2, 4.09 ERA in Triple-A Tacoma) will be making his major league start since last season with Atlanta. He will be 12th different starting pitcher the Mariners have used this season.

Red Sox: LHP Brian Johnson (1-0, 7.20 ERA) will be making his second major league start this year and third of his career.


More AP baseball:

Pedroia (knee) out of lineup again after leaving game early Thursday

Pedroia (knee) out of lineup again after leaving game early Thursday

Dustin Pedroia is out of the lineup again tonight after leaving the Red Sox game Thursday night with knee pain in the fifth inning.

Josh Rutledge will start at second base as the Sox open a three-game series with the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park.  

The weather and sloppy field conditions were a factor in John Farrell deciding to get Pedroia out of the game Thursday and conditions haven’t improved significantly Friday. 

Pedroia (.288, two homers, 21 RBI) had surgery on that knee in October. It's the same leg that was hurt when Manny Machado slid into Pedroia at second base in April, the slide that sparked the plunking war between the Orioles and Red Sox.

The full lineups: 

Jean Segura SS
Guillermo Heredia CF
Robinson Canó 2B
Nelson Cruz DH
Kyle Seager 3B
Danny Valencia 1B
Taylor Motter LF
Ben Gamel RF
Mike Zunino C

Yovanni Gallardo RHP

Mookie Betts RF
Andrew Benintendi LF
Xander Bogaerts SS
Hanley Ramirez DH
Mitch Moreland 1B
Josh Rutledge 2B
Jackie Bradley Jr CF
Christian Vazquez C
Deven Marrero 3B

Eduardo Rodriguez LHP