Time to Put Up or Get Out

I’m pretty sure that I put up a post earlier this summer about it being time for John Lackey to prove his worth.  Well, this is the final hour, the last chance.  Time for John Lackey, aka Lackmaster, to either put up, or get the hell out.  I don’t need to mention that this is the biggest series that the Red Sox have played all year, that has been stated more times than I can count.  I don’t need to mention that tonight’s game is probably the biggest single game that the Red Sox have played to date, that has also been mentioned more time than I can count.  But, I do want to say that a great performance from John Lackey tonight would completely justify his $18.7 million salary this season, well for me at least.

If nothing else, John Lackey’s reputation before coming to Beantown was his ability to perform well in the “big game.”  Lackey has shown throughout his entire career in Los Angeles…I mean Anaheim…well, actually Los Angeles and Anaheim…well whatever, you get the point; he showed the ability to show up when his team needed him the most.  Whether it was a big game in August or September, or a playoff game when his team was facing elimination, the Angels could always count on Lackey.  It goes without saying that Lackey, despite a respectable 12-7 record, has had his fair share of struggles this season.  The most alarming of which have occurred when the Red Sox have needed him most (most recently a loss against the Yankees on August 7th).

Unlike many of you out there, I have yet to abandon hope for the Lackmaster.  I actually expect him to come out and step up for the Sox tonight (don’t worry I’m knocking on wood as you are reading this).  My concern tonight lies not as much with John Lackey as it does with that bullpen that has let the team down continuously this entire season.  I’m not sure if Daniel Bard is available tonight (considering he has thrown in the previous two games), but this game needs to be approached by Lackey, the entire team, the bullpen, and maybe most importantly the coaching staff, as a playoff game.  It is no longer the time to protect players, watch pitch counts, create lineups by the numbers, or get guys their fair share of playing time.  Tonight begins the playoff run for the 2010 Red Sox.  A win catapults the Red Sox into a battle for the wild card with these very Tampa Bay Rays.  A loss almost completely eliminates any hope for a playoff run, and we will be watching the Sox in September only to see what kind of talent is in the organization’s farm system.

That all being said, tonight’s success or failure falls completely into the hands of John Lackey.  A great performance by the Lackmaster justifies his offseason signing, while his failure to show up simply expedites his departure from Boston.

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