John Lackey Somehow Improving on His Huge 2015 Season and Other Bullets

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John Lackey Somehow Improving on His Huge 2015 Season and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

lackey and monteroDue to the Memorial Day holiday, and due to my own travels, posting will be limited today.

  • With yesterday’s win, the Cubs are now 20 games over .500, a season high. The 97-win Cubs of 2015 didn’t reach that mark until August 23.
  • After another successful start yesterday against the Phillies, John Lackey’s performance with the Cubs through 10 starts is really something to behold. No one realistically expected the 37-year-old righty to be able to match his output from 2015 with the Cardinals, which was in part aided by a historically fortuitous bullpen strand rate (as well as his own elevated 82.6% LOB). And, indeed, Lackey has not matched his output from 2015. Arguably, he’s exceeded it. Consider that, despite a marked drop in that LOB rate and an increase in his HR/FB ratio, Lackey’s ERA has increased only slightly, from 2.77 last year to 3.16 this year. That’s mostly because he’s seen his walk rate stay mostly flat (5.9% to 6.5%) while his strikeout rate has exploded (19.5% to 25.6%(!)). Taken all together, Lackey is posting his best FIP (3.36) in a decade, and an xFIP (3.52) that tops last year’s mark by 25 points. His WAR, 1.4, puts him on pace to top four wins for the first time since 2007. It’s also the 12th highest WAR in the NL, 0.1 ahead of teammate and friend Jon Lester.
  • Ben Zobrist is obscenely hot, as you already knew, and he homered again yesterday to extend his current hitting streak to 15 games. But did you know he is the first Cubs player since 2008 (Alfonso Soriano) to have 40 hits in May? ( That month, Soriano hit .345/.386/.672, which was good for a 163 wRC+. Zobrist is currently at .421/.496/.684 in May, which is a 213 wRC+. I’m suddenly wondering what the best months have been for a Cubs player in the last, say, 15 years. Is Zobrist’s right up there? Maybe we’ll wait until the month is over and look into that.
  • On the year, Zobrist’s wRC+ is up to 168, which trails only David Ortiz, Manny Machado, Mike Trout, and Daniel Murphy. More on Zobrist’s hot start, and how he’s feeling as good at the plate as he’s ever felt, here at CSN.
  • Clayton Kershaw was characteristically dominant last night against the Mets … which means he won’t be pitching for the next four days. Those just happen to be the days the Dodgers come to Wrigley Field to play the Cubs. I’d call that a 50% bummer (because watching Kershaw is fun, even against the Cubs), and a 50% awesome (BECAUSE OBVIOUSLY).

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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.