Blue Jays: Does John Lackey make sense for 2018?

ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 27: John Lackey
ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 27: John Lackey /

The veteran righty had a tough 2017 season with the Chicago Cubs and is not planning on retiring for the 2018 season. Even though he is entering his 39 year old season, would he make sense for the Blue Jays?

His 2017 numbers aren’t exciting by any means, as John Lackey posted a 4.59 ERA with a .500 record at 12-12. An alarming number is the 36 home runs he gave up in the 2017 campaign. However, considering the Blue Jays just need a 5th starter, elite numbers are not required. Other factors like durability might be of the Jays interest. Here is why John Lackey could make sense for the Blue Jays.

Lackey would give innings. The Blue Jays, as everyone knows, struggled severely with injuries. Aaron Sanchez missed almost the entire season with the lingering blister issues. J.A. Happ missed over a month, and Francisco Liriano missed over half a month. Not only did that force the team to bring up inexperienced players, but it also caused the bullpen to have a bigger workload, which might have affected the Jays in the long run.  Lackey has averaged 193 innings over the last four seasons, close to 200, which is a number every starter aims for.

Injuries have not been a problem for the veteran. He’s had just two DL stints over the last two seasons which lasted no more than two weeks. One was a foot injury, so nothing to do with the arm. The other one was a right shoulder strain which kept him off the mound for exactly 15 days. It has not been a problem since. Although it can be said now that he’s 39 there’s a probability he suffers from more injuries, Lackey has not been known as an injury prone pitcher by any means and over the last number of seasons, in his high 30’s, he has not suffered from any major injuries, therefore, it shouldn’t be a huge concern.

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That said, his 2017 numbers show a clear decline which might be related to his age. However, his 2016, 2015 and 2014 seasons in which he was also considered an ‘old’ player, turned out to be excellent campaigns for him. This might be an indication that there’s no reason to think he can’t be a decent number 5 starter in 2018.

Having a look at how he ended the regular season, it also shows promise. In September he made 5 starts posting an outstanding 2.51 ERA. Also, after the All-Star break, he had a 3.75 ERA, which is a very solid ERA. It could be said he had a similar season to Marco Estrada’s. He started the season terribly with three horrible months, April, May, and June, but then he was solid and finished the season in great form.

An important factor is the price. Lackey would come cheap, and on a one year deal. The Jays are more focused on position players as they really need to improve the offense. Therefore they might not want to spend a lot on the rotation piece they’re missing. Lackey for that reason, makes sense. Perhaps a similar deal to Dickey’s last year with Atlanta is what Lackey and his agent might look for.

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Due to some of the uncertainty there is with Aaron Sanchez and the blister issues, as well as the 5th starter vacancy in the Jays rotation, John Lackey does make sense for the Blue Jays to a certain extent, especially when you consider the innings he could provide for a rotation in need.