Turning in yet another impressive performance, John Lackey matched his career high with 12 strikeouts while pitching seven innings of two-run ball in the Red Sox’s 5-3 win over the Rockies on Wednesday.
It was the third straight start in which Lackey has pitched seven innings and given up two runs. He’s turned in quality starts in seven of his last eight outings.
Lackey matched his career high in strikeouts established back in 2008, when he was still with the Angels. It was his 14th career 10-strikeout game, but his first since 2010.
Lackey became the 10th pitcher this year to strike out at least 12 and walk none in a start, joining Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez, Matt Harvey and others. Yu Darvish has done it twice. In 2011, there were just six such outings of 12 strikeouts and no walks over the course of the season. In 2006, there were three.
The last Red Sox hurler to pull off the feat was Pedro Martinez in 2003.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times unloaded a lot of interesting news items about the Rays last night, including a report that the Rays might have “mutual interest” in a deal with free agent first baseman/DH Mike Napoli. The Rangers declined Napoli’s $11 million option earlier this month and owe the veteran infielder a $2.5 million buyout.
Napoli, 36, had a strange year in Texas. He turned in 29 home runs, good for 11th-most among AL hitters, but finished the year batting just .193/.285/.428 over 485 plate appearances. According to FanGraphs, his -0.5 fWAR was the worst mark of his career to date, but on the bright side, he should come cheap for a team looking to swap out their veterans come spring.
Of course, the specifics of the Rays’ offseason plan have yet to be divulged — or, by all accounts from Topkin, even decided on. The club could go the refurbishment route, changing out some of their higher-paid veterans for a mix of prospects and cheaper aging players; or they could opt for a full rebuild, which Topkin cautions against as it could have a negative effect on the financing of a new ballpark. Either way, the Rays figure to offload some of their bigger contracts this winter, and will need to decide if they want to retain Alex Colome, Chris Archer, Wilson Ramos, Evan Longoria and others before pursuing any other major free agents.