Originally written on Baseball Professor  |  Last updated 6/29/13
Los-angeles-angels-boston
Being the Yankees fan that I am, I take great joy when the Red Sox make a bad move, e.g. J.D. Drew. So when the 2009-2010 off-season came around and they signed John Lackey, I had a good chuckle.After Lackey’s stellar 2007 season he regressed in 2008 and 2009. His ERA rose in each of those years and injuries set in limiting him to under 200 innings for the first time in his career since he became a fixture in the Angels rotation. Everyone seemed to think it was a terrible signing. Much to my joy, 2010 and 2011 were not good years for Lackey, and 2012 was a total wash with Tommy John Surgery.Unfortunately, though, for me and Yankee’s fans everywhere, Lackey has roared back in 2013 and the fantasy world really hasn’t taken notice. Lackey is only owned in just 42% of Yahoo leagues and 56.3% of ESPN leagues despite putting up some really good numbers.Lackey’s Stunning SuccessIf you are not a Lackey owner and he is available in your league ask yourself this question: Is there room on my pitching staff for a guy that is 5-5 with a 2.99 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and a 4.29 K/BB rate? If the answer to that question is no, then you are obviously dominating your league and have no reason to read further because you require no fantasy advice. But, if you are like me and are always looking for a quality pitcher, then read on.Looking at Lackey’s peripherals, this isn’t a lucky fluke, but sustainable quality. The K/BB rate is the obvious place to start. His 4.29 ratio is easily the best of his career. Even during his incredible 2007 season where he went 19-9 with a 3.01 ERA he had only a 2.09 K/BB rate. His strand rate is possibly a bit high at 78.3% (league average is 70-72%), but then again so is his HR/FB rate, which is  14.1%. Even in his two prior dreadful Boston years, Lackey posted very good HR/FB rates of 9.1% and 7.3%. His other peripherals also point to sustained success. He has a career high GB rate at 50.0% and a career low FB rate at 30.6%. His velocity is where it always has been, sitting in the 91-mph range.Revert in RepertoireLackey has gone back to the pitcher he was when he was having success as an Angel. In his previous two unsuccessful years he stopped throwing his four-seam fastball in favor of a cutter, slider and curve. This year he has dramatically cut down on the junk stuff and went back to throwing his four-seamer almost 55% of the time.You can always worry about the injury risk, but there has been no evidence that Lackey has had any problems with his surgically repaired elbow. Even if he does get injured why wouldn’t  you take what you can get from the guy while he is still healthy. It’s not like you have to give up anything to pick a guy up off the waiver wire. One caveat though, Lackey does not seem to like pitching in Tampa. In 2 starts this year he has an 8.10 ERA and in 10 career starts he is 4-5 with a 6.83 ERA.
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