With Clay Buchholz not having started a game since June 8 and Jon Lester not pitching at the level he did at the beginning of the year, many would think the Red Sox rotation would struggle.
This hasn’t been the case as Boston’s starting rotation had the second best ERA in the American League at 3.79, trailing only the Tigers, as recently as this past weekend. Without question this is due in large part to the performances from Felix Doubront and John Lackey over the first four months of the season.
With last Friday’s victory over the Yankees, Doubront improved to 7-3 on the season and continued a streak of allowing two runs or less in his last six starts all while posting a glistening 1.83 ERA in that stretch. Even further, the left-hander has allowed three runs or less in 16 of his 17 starts this season, including 12 straight.
“He’s certainly gained a lot of confidence over the last couple of months,’’ Farrell said of Doubront. “He’s trusting his fastball a lot more on the plate and not trying to be so fine. And he’s got a four-pitch mix working that he’s used right out of the gate not only to establish his fastball, but use his other stuff to allow himself some breathing room inside the strike zone.”
His performance has been even more impressive considering his velocity has dropped two or three MPH on his fastball since last season, as he is now topping out at 91-92 compared to 93-94 last year.
Despite suffering a loss Saturday, and a 7-7 overall record, Lackey has emerged as one of, if not the most consistent pitcher on the staff. Prior to Saturday, the 34-year-old had gone six straight outings of throwing at least seven innings and allowing two runs or fewer. All of this is after missing the entire 2012 season due to Tommy John surgery.
Lackey has gotten stronger and more comfortable on the mound as the season has gone on and has even gained some velocity on his fastball since before the surgery as he is now topping out around 94 MPH.
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“Now that he is completely healthy, he has all the weapons he can go to,” Farrell said of Lackey.
Follow Metro Red Sox beat writer Ryan Hannable on Twitter @hannable84