John Lackey & Ryan Dempster: The 2 most valuble pitchers so far
Photo Courtesy of NESN
Not many people would have told you at the beginning of the season that our top 2 starters, Jon Lester and Clay Bucholz would be going through serious issues in June.
"They're both perfectly fine and pitching great," you might have said.
Well, I would have said the same thing, but I couldn't forsee Clay Bucholz's injury problems and Jon Lester's struggles. Now let's take this a step farther - if anyone told me that John Lackey and Ryan Dempster would have been our two best starters, I probably would have laughed. I was as disappointed as anyone after he struggled in his first 2 seasons, then was benched for a year due to injury. He was inconsistent in his first 2 years as a Red Sox player, but whatever he did to rehab from his injries a year a go clearly did wonders for him. He now looks more like the Lackey we paid big bucks for. Yesterday, he became the first Red Sox pitcher to strikeout 12 hitters without a walk since one Pedro Martinez did it one May 3, 2003, according to NESN.
And then we have Ryan Dempster. He's consistently gone out there and gave us a chance to win games, but the run support has not always been there for him, but recently the run support has picked up. He was the beneficiary of 17 runs against the Rangers, 10 against the Angels, and 11 last time out against the Rockies. But that hasn't always been the case this season. He's had six straight quality starts, but he's only gotten sufficient run support to get the W in the three mentioned above. He's probably one of the unluckiest pitchers in the game right now.
And the timing has been perfect for Lackey and Dempster. Bucholz has had his repeated setbacks in recovering from injury and Lester just isn't pitching well right now. John Lackey and Ryan Dempster have been providing stability while our top 2 starters try and work through their issues. Just think where we would be without them. Actually, don't. I don't want to think about it either. The point is, Lackey and Dempster have been reliable and the last two games have really showed that. We'll need the whole rotation pitching at the same level to make a run which means Lester needs to step his game up. I'm sure Bucholz will get back to where he was pre-injury, but the important thing is for him to come back healthy. Sure, we want to win but it won't help if the team rushes him back and he just injures himself for the rest of the season.