After coming up short in last night’s contest, the Chicago Cubs (12-10) send veteran righty John Lackey (1-3, 4.88 ERA) to the mound in Game 2 of their weekend series against the Boston Red Sox (12-10).
Many of you may remember the 2011 season where Lackey and Jon Lester infamously ate fried chicken and drank beer in the clubhouse during games. Certainly, Terry Francona does. That was when he knew he’d lost his handle on the team.
The following year, Lackey underwent Tommy John surgery and missed the entire campaign. In 2013, he had an underwhelming year and was subsequently traded for Joe Kelly and Alan Craig.
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Back to Boston
Two years later, Lackey is with the Cubs traveling back to a ballpark and a city where he earned most of his accolades.
Red Sox manager John Farrell said he can still hear the crowd’s reaction when Lackey walked off the mound in Game 6 of the 2013 World Series after what he had been through.
"“That was a really special moment, to clinch a World Series with him on the mound,” Farrell said."
As a member of the Red Sox, Lackey went 47-43 with a 4.46 ERA. In his career at Fenway Park, he’s thrown two complete games and recorded a 1.38 WHIP.
Lackey returns to Boston a three-time Champion, most recently with the Boys in Blue. However, both of Saturday’s starters will be looking for some positive results.
The Red Sox will send Steven Wright (1-2, 8.66 ERA) to the mound in the hump-game of the series. Wright has struggled mightily so far this season. In 17 2/3 inning, he’s given up 33 hits seven home runs and 17 earned runs.
Lackey is in need of a ‘Cowboy-up’ start as well. In four starts, he’s recorded a 1.29 WHIP, eight walks, and has given up 13 earned runs. He is averaging six innings per start and a 9.8 K/9, but giving up 23 hits in 24 innings is a little disconcerting.
Opponents are hitting a measly .245 against Lackey, but have beat up on Wright to a tune of .413 BAA.
Here are the lineups for today’s game:
What to watch for
Boston’s bats had been slumping until last night against Jake Arrieta when they put up five runs in the first inning. Even with the leagues lowest K% rate in the MLB, Boston ranks near the bottom in runs scored (83), home runs (12), and ISO (.104).
The Red Sox are primarily a ground-ball hitting team. If Lackey is going to have success this afternoon, he’ll need to keep the ball down in the zone.