Game 28: Mariners at Red Sox
Doug Fister vs. John Lackey, 4:10pm.
John Lackey isn’t as bad as his RA might indicate, but he’s owed $15.25 million this year – and for the next three after that. While his FIP’s inflated by some HR troubles, there are other, more concerning signs that he’s approaching cautionary tale status. His swinging strike rate’s declined every year since 2005 -from 10.6% down to a Fisterian 6.1% this year. He’s walking more, giving up more fly balls, and yielding more contact. Schadenfreude’s frowned upon, but… it’s the Red Sox. An anchor contract doesn’t mean as much to the plutocrats in Boston, and the world champion Giants found a way to win despite the most infamous contract in baseball. Still, Lackey’s descent to mediocrity and Carl Crawford’s awful start changes the complexion of the AL East.
The M’s go for their fifth straight win behind Doug Fister. Last year, Fister pounded the zone with fastballs, and essentially traded whiffs/contact for command. He wasn’t going to strike anyone out, but he wasn’t going to walk many either. His off-speed pitches seemed to be used to keep hitters off balance as opposed to real, K-generating weapons. This year, his approach looks quite a bit different. Against righties, he’s shelved his slider in favor of his curveball with solid results. His pitch-mix to lefties is pretty similar, but he’s commanding his curve much better – he’s simply throwing more strikes.
Line-up (hat tip: Shannon Drayer)