By: Alex Patt
Veteran RHP John Lackey has been around a long time, and it seems like he is near the end. The 38-year old Texan signed the two-year deal with the Cubs before 2016 to get his jewelry, which he did. After a very solid season last year posting a 11-8 record with a 3.35 ERA, 1.057 WHIP, 180 Ks in 188.1 innings, he struggled out of the gate this season. While the five-spot of the rotation was rotating itself, Lackey in the three spot struggled mightily. By June 12th his ERA was up to 5.26 and was among the top pitchers in baseball in giving up home runs.
His past six games however he has rebounded a bit and been much more solid. Now the fifth starter with Kyle Hendricks returning from injury and Jose Quintana coming into the mix, Lackey has performed at a desirable level for the kind of pitcher he is now. At 38 with his skill deteriorating his best spot is the end of the rotation and will not really eat innings as much anymore, so take what you can get from him.
Going back to the beginning of July, Lackey has a 3.65 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, averaging between five and six innings of work and averaging just over four strikeouts per outing. He still gives up the longball, giving up five since then, but still better that the rate he was giving them up earlier in the year. These are the kinds of outings you want from a fifth starter, it is nothing dominant but he keeps you in the ballgame and the Cubs have won all of the games he has started since July 5th. His overall season numbers still do not look great: 4.82 ERA / 1.33 WHIP / 29 HR given up, but credit is due to his recent success as a back-of-the-end rotation guy, kind of shows how ugly his first half of the season was.
It is important to note that if the Cubs make the postseason that Lackey is still the odd man out in the rotation. Lester, Arrieta, Quintana and Hendricks would be the probables if healthy. But in the regular season he has to do his job of keeping the team in ballgames like he has the past month or so.