John Lackey In Need Of Surgery?

July 5, 2011 – 7:55 pm by Ryan Phillips

Boston Red Sox starting pitcher John Lackey is having one of the worst seasons of any starter in Major League Baseball. That’s not good for a guy making around $16 million this year. But are Lackey’s troubles the result of him just not being that good, or is he, in fact, injured?

Lackey is currently 5-8 with a 7.47 ERA, a 1.63 WHIP and opponents are hitting .304 off of him. In 72.1 innings pitched, Lackey has allowed 91 hits and 60 runs (all earned).

Lackey was a disappointment last year after signing a five-year, $82 million contract. When you remember that the Red Sox essentially signed him so the New York Yankees wouldn’t get him, it has to be disconcerting that he finished the season 14-11 with a 4.40 ERA, and a 1.42 WHIP in 215 innings. He also allowed career-highs in hits (233) and runs (114), and opponents hit .278 against him.

So is this year just a continuation of his downfall? Last week Peter Gammons made headlines by saying that Lackey might actually need Tommy John surgery in August. Lackey was on the disabled list in May and was given a cortisone shot to relieve the pain and inflammation in his right elbow.

After Lackey was lit up by the Toronto Blue Jays for seven runs and nine hits on Monday, everyone was speculating about the 32-year-old’s health. Red Sox manager Terry Francona insisted that velocity was not the issue. Boston general manager Theo Epstein said the team is monitoring Lackey’s health and he and Francona have both dismissed the idea of surgery for the right hander.

With Clay Buchholz injured and about to see a back specialist and Lackey struggling the Red Sox could start looking for pitching on the trade market.

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