10-17-2011: The Lackey situation

Everyone is pretty worried about John Lackey and the three years remaining on his contract. What do we do with this albatross? Certainly none of the stats guys saw this coming. Curt Schilling claims that Lackey can’t rebound from the year he’s had, and the stats are beginning to agree. Here’s what we see in the crystal ball, taking into account his poor performance this year:

2012 145.0 166 16 50 109 1.49 4.50
2013 138.1 161 16 49 102 1.52 4.64
2014 130.1 155 15 47 94 1.55 4.80

That’s about 0.40 runs higher than his 2011 projection coming in. And a 4.50 ERA is not what it used to be, either – the declining run environment around baseball means that our expectations of him are well below average at this point. Not too encouraging, considering the drastic decline in innings we expect to see from him. He could be capable of more, but do you really want him to pitch more than 130-140 innings at that level?

My feeling is that he starts next year as the #5 starter. There’s no sense in trading him now when he is at his lowest perceived value. If he can keep his ERA in the low- to mid-4s, he can keep that job, otherwise, I think we have no choice but to trade or cut him.

What do you think? Are you willing to live with that for the next three years at $16M/year?


2 Responses to 10-17-2011: The Lackey situation

  1. redsoxtalk says:

    Once you correct for Fenway Park, that ERA jumps up to 4.59 for 2012. Theo is jumping ship just in time.

  2. redsoxtalk says:

    The thing about it is, it was lefties who really killed Lackey this year. They all turned into Adrian Gonzalez against him this year.
    RHB: .265/.345/.433 (.285 BABIP)
    LHB: .343/.401/.514 (.383 BABIP)

    Even with BABIP effects taken into account, that righty split is not wonderful, but it’s not terrible either. His career platoon advantage against RHB is about 20 points of BABIP, so we can expect those to normalize a bit next season, which should lead to some marginal improvement, just by luck.

    The problem is not velocity. If I were Lackey, I’d spend some time refining that changeup or adjusting my arm angle to be more effective against LHB if I wanted to keep my starting job.

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