John Lackey Brings Red Sox Closer to Hitting the Jackpot

John Lackey Brings Red Sox Closer to Hitting the Jackpot Staring down the barrel of John Lackey’s fastball won’t make any major leaguers shake in their cleats. But his sneaky stuff can leave them shaking their heads.

That’s why the Red Sox decided to offer him more than $82.5 million over the next five years.

The move — pending a physical — gives Boston a very deep rotation.

How’s this for starters?

Josh Beckett
Jon Lester
John Lackey
Clay Buchholz
Daisuke Matsuzaka
Tim Wakefield

With the addition of Lackey, the Red Sox have gone from having two No. 1 pitchers to three. And they all bring something different to the mound.

Beckett, despite consecutive up-and-down seasons, remains one of the most feared pitchers in the majors.

Lester is moving up the charts of dominating left-handers.

And Lackey can outwork just about any workhorse who throws a baseball for a living.

The 31-year-old Lackey spent the first eight seasons of his big league career in Anaheim with the Angels and has made over 30 starts five times. He’s reached double-digit wins seven straight years and finished each of the last five seasons with an ERA under 3.83.

He’s a four-pitch pitcher (fastball, curveball, slider, change) with excellent control. He won Game 7 of the 2002 World Series as a rookie and has averaged 15 wins and 219 innings per season in his career.

His best campaign was in 2007, when he went 19-9 and led the AL with a 3.01 ERA.

Of course, that doesn’t mean Lackey is perfect. He opened the past two seasons on the disabled list with some elbow issues — finishing 12-5 in 2008 and 11-8 in 2009 — and can get in trouble when his breaking stuff isn’t breaking.

But when he’s on target, the opposition has a better chance of escaping a bear trap than getting a hit.

Adding the Texas native makes the Red Sox a better staff and also gives them options.

If they want to go get a slugger like Adrian Gonzalez or Miguel Cabrera, they now have the resources to make it happen. With Lackey as insurance, Boston might be more willing to give up Buchholz — and a prospect or two — for a power bat.

If the Red Sox want to keep all of their starters, they won’t be praying for rain in any game next season. They will be praying to play two as often as possible.

Boston is making a big commitment by signing Lackey. Will he be worth $16 million per year and hold up until he’s 36? We shall see.

But the offseason — and 2010 season — just got a whole lot more interesting.

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