Exit Interview: John Lackey

The last couple of years, I spent the time immediately after the season examining each player that had made an appearance in St. Louis during the season.  This series was well received and so I’m bringing this idea back for the 2014 offseason.  More summaries than anything, I imagine the player coming into Mike Matheny‘s office and having a short conference before heading home for the winter.  Stats are just the ones accumulated for the Cardinals during the regular season.

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Player: John Lackey

Season stats: 3-3, 4.30 ERA, 10 games, 60.2 IP, 69 H, 15 BB, 48 K, 1.385 WHIP, 86 ERA+

Hero/Goat: Hero 2, Goat 3

Overall grade: B-

Positives: Threw a gem in his first Cardinal postseason game, limiting the Dodgers to one run in seven innings….his first start with his new team was impactful as well, as he gave up just two runs in seven against the then-division leading Brewers….went at least seven innings in four of his 10 regular season starts for St. Louis.

Negatives: Battled a “dead arm” for a portion of August, a span of three games where he gave up almost a run an inning….gave up four runs in six innings against the Giants in his last postseason outing….allowed nine runs in five innings against the Orioles in only his second start, giving people a bit of a scare about the trade.

Overview: You can see why John Mozeliak targeted Lackey when he was looking for pitching help at the trade deadline.  After all, the Cardinals had seen him just last October keeping them from attaining another Series title.  He was a guy that could go deep into games, a guy that had plenty of October experience, and a guy that brought a little edge to the clubhouse.  Adding him and A.J. Pierzynski showed Mo was ready to shake up what seemed to be a bit of complacency in the clubhouse chemistry.

For the most part, Lackey delivered on his promise, but his inconsistency was a little troubling.  Here’s the run (actual, not earned) pattern of his ten starts in Cardinal red: 2, 9, 2, 4, 1, 5, 6, 2*, 1, 2.  It was almost like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde took up baseball.  You couldn’t be certain that Lackey was going to keep the other offense down, and given how troublesome the Cardinal offense was, that was a problem.

*–The two came in two innings before Lackey, perturbed with the strike zone, commented enough on it to the umpire that he was asked to watch the rest of the game in the clubhouse.

Lackey did help keep the bullpen from being overtaxed and he did produce well in his first playoff game, though the inconsistency reared up there again as well.  If Allen Craig had been producing, I think the Cardinals would have lost this trade.  Then again, if Allen Craig was producing, the trade likely never would have been made and perhaps wouldn’t have needed to be made.

Outlook: Another huge reason Mozeliak went after Lackey was that he had an team option for 2015 at a ridiculous cost of just $500,000.  Lackey said he’d honor it and the Cardinals have already exercised it.  That doesn’t preclude Lackey being dealt–that cost plus that productivity would have a lot of teams interested–but most likely he’ll be in the middle of the Cardinal rotation come April.

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Last updated: 10/06/2022