In the middle of two huge blockbuster deadline trades, a mini blockbuster was completed. As first reported by John Heyman of CBS Sports, The Red Sox sent John Lackey to the Cardinals for Allen Craig and Joe Kelly.
John Lackey was having a very good year in Boston. He currently has a 3.60 ERA with a FIP to match, and is striking out 7.6 per nine innings. In fact, these numbers are almost exactly equal to his numbers last year.
The change in leagues alone will give him a boost in his numbers. He’s no longer facing a DH and gets to face a pitcher 3-plus times a game. But he also gets a change in the competition and parks he will be pitching in. I know the AL east wasn’t what it once was, but Baltimore and Toronto have top offenses in the game and pitching in Yankee Stadium is never easy.
He now goes to a division with three of the worst offenses in baseball (Yes, one of them is his new team). To see what this looks like, take a look at what his next six starts schedule out to be (assuming he starts in the Cardinals rotation when I’m hearing he will)
- Red Sox at Home (Wow, that will be exciting)
- Orioles in Baltimore
- Padres at Home
- Reds at Home
- Pirates at home
- Cubs at Home
Four of those teams are in the bottom six worst offenses in the league. Baltimore is the only offense that worries you at all. For comparison, look at his last six starts for the Red Sox.
- Mariners in Seattle
- Yankees in New York
- Baltimore at Home
- Astros in Houston
- Blue Jays in Toronto
- Rays in Tampa (In the midst of their hot streak).
Only one of those teams is in those bottom six offenses. Two of them are top ten offenses in baseball, and four of them were in great parks for offense. This is a good illustration of the change in competition and parks Lackey is looking at from this change.
He also has this going for him: His career regular season ERA against the NL is 3.07 with just under a strikeout per inning.
So, Lackey goes from facing big tough AL DH’s to facing NL pitchers, from some of the best hitters ballparks to pitchers ballparks, and from some of the strongest offenses, to some of the weakest. This should all give him a big boost in his numbers. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was a 3.00 ERA pitcher with almost a strikeout per inning over the final two months of the season.