John Lackey rocked again as ERA rises to 7.34

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Last week John Lackey denied speculation that he may need Tommy John elbow surgery and then tossed 7.2 innings of two-run ball against the Phillies, but the Red Sox right-hander was back to his old tricks this afternoon.

Lackey failed to make it out of the third inning versus the Blue Jays, coughing up seven runs while recording just seven outs, and was booed off the mound at Fenway Park.

Lackey allowed nine hits in 2.1 innings, including a homer to Aaron Hill, and his ERA now stands at a hideous 7.34.

Boston can demote him to the bullpen or place him back on the disabled list, but with Lackey owed $15.25 million this season with the same salary due in 2012, 2013, and 2014 he’s going to be their problem for a while.

So far the Red Sox have paid him about $23 million for 287 innings of 5.14 ERA pitching.

Ian Kinsler lists the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central

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Every now and then, The Players’ Tribune runs a “five toughest” feature. In 2015, David Ortiz listed the five toughest pitchers he ever faced. Last month, Christian Yelich wrote up the five toughest pitchers in the NL East. Now, it’s Ian Kinsler‘s turn with the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central.

Kinsler goes into detail explaining why each pitcher is difficult to face, so hop over to The Players’ Tribune for his reasoning. His list

Presumably, Kinsler intentionally omitted his Tiger teammates from the list. He has faced Justin Verlander a fair amount earlier in his career, and he has only a .176/.333/.235 batting line in 42 plate appearances against the right-hander. Verlander’s stuff is often described as tough to hit in one phrase or another. Kinsler has also struggled against Indians starter Carlos Carrasco (.590 OPS), but one can understand why he would be omitted from a list of five given who was already listed.

Angels demote C.J. Cron to Triple-A

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Angels first baseman C.J. Cron hit a grand slam against the Mets on Sunday, but it wasn’t enough to keep his spot on the major league roster as the club announced his demotion to Triple-A Salt Lake on Monday. Infielder Nolan Fantana has been promoted from Salt Lake.

Cron, 27, was hitting a disappointing .232/.281/.305 with one home run and RBI in 90 plate appearances. I guess you can say that wasn’t the kind of Cron job the Angels were expecting. Cron was an above-average hitter in each of his first three seasons, finishing with an OPS+, or adjusted OPS, of 111, 106, and 115 (100 is average).

While Cron is figuring things out in the minors, Luis Valbuena, Jefry Marte, and Albert Pujols could each see some time at first base.