John Lackey impresses in return to Cardinals’ rotation

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John Lackey had his most recent turn in the Cardinals’ rotation skipped due to a “dead arm,” but he was impressive in his return last night, allowing one run in 7 2/3 innings in a 2-1 win over the Reds.

Lackey, who had an ugly 5.05 ERA over his first eight starts with St. Louis, held Cincinnati to just five hits while walking none and striking out five. The veteran right-hander was very efficient, throwing 66 out of 87 pitches for strikes and first-pitch strikes to 25 out of the 28 batters he faced. According to Brooks Baseball, he averaged nearly 92 mph on his fastball, which is a couple of ticks higher than he was in his last couple of starts.

Yes, it was just the Reds, but the Cardinals have to be encouraged here. Lackey might have pitched himself back into the postseason rotation.