Chicago Cubs: What's the deal lately with John Lackey?
|Tuesday, August 22, 2017 5:04 PM- -|
It’s no secret that John Lackey had a less than stellar start to the season like most of the Cubs had. He struggled and I mean really struggled in the first half of the season. He limped into the 2nd half with a 5.20 ERA. Teams were batting .258 against the veteran and even worse they were slugging .516 against him. He gave up a whopping 24 home runs over the span of 98.2 innings. This production and numbers had many at the All Star break wondering when, not if John Lackey would be moved to the pen for a long reliever like Mike Montgomery.
Since the break though Lackey has been a phenomenal fifth option for this Cubs team. In the second half, he has improved on the first half marks by quite a bit. He is sporting a second half ERA of 3.06. Opponents average just .234 in the second half, and perhaps the most telling stat is the opposing slugging has decreased by .111 point down to .405 in 32 innings of work. Prompting him to be off the rotational hot seat. So this begs the question, what has been the difference for John Lackey? I believe he has worked with pitching coach Chris Bosio to make ever so slight changes to his mechanics that have made all the difference. Let's look first at a pitch from one of his April Starts against Milwaukee and a picture of the exact moment he releases the ball.
Now compare that to his last start where he struck out 6 Reds batters.
It seems to me on his release point he is getting his plant foot a little more lined up to where his shoulder is which makes his release on the ball to look a bit more even in his most recent one. Where as his shoulders seem to be slanted earlier in the year. Now to look at the follow throughs on the two pitches.
Therefore he was unable to snap off the curve and get the motion he wants on it.
Now he looks like with the small adjustment he's made on his plant foot he looks to be a bit more grounded. He's able to get the snap and the movement he wants on the curve, and this has translated to better control and more movement on his pitches as he follows through with more authority. The difference? Well, the lower ERA but in the short term, the first pitch was a home run one of three given up that night. The other he got the batter to chase a nasty curve that ended up in the dirt for strike three.
Hopefully, John Lackey can keep it going for the stretch run and into the playoffs because the Cubs will need him to be on top of his game.