Plugging John Lackey’s .093 career batting average into the lineup is unlikely to help the St. Louis Cardinals continue digging themselves out of an offensive funk.
Good thing he brings with him an 18-10 record and 3.07 ERA against NL teams.
Lackey was brought to St. Louis to bolster the starting staff and help track down the Milwaukee Brewers, and he’ll get an opportunity to go right at them in his first start since moving to the NL in Sunday’s finale of a three-game series at Busch Stadium.
The former Boston hurler will follow fellow rotation newcomer Justin Masterson into the heat of the division race after Masterson started Saturday’s 9-7 win.
Lackey, acquired Thursday for outfielder Allen Craig and pitcher Joe Kelly, hasn’t pitched in the NL, but arrives in St. Louis with the reputation of stepping up in big situations such as this.
"I guess it’s better than the other way," Lackey told MLB’s official site. "You want your teammates to think they’ve got a chance when they’re going into a big one with you. I’ve been fortunate enough to win a few (titles). Hopefully, I’ll do it again."
The 35-year-old right-hander was 11-7 with a 3.60 ERA before the trade, most recently pitching in last Saturday’s 3-0 loss in Tampa Bay as he allowed three runs – two earned – and eight hits in seven innings.
The move to the NL could suit him well, as it does many pitchers, and he has the success to back it up in 37 career starts.
"There might have been a thought or two about that," Lackey said. "I think I’d rather face a pitcher than David Ortiz, yeah. I think that was intriguing, for sure."
His only start against Milwaukee was a victory June 17, 2011, surrendering four runs and eight hits in eight innings of a 10-4 win.
Prior to Saturday’s win, the Cardinals (58-51) had scored 30 runs over a 3-7 stretch with a .232 average.
Kolten Wong, who entered the contest in a 6-for-36 skid, went 3 for 5 with a home run.
They’ll try to keep it going against Matt Garza, who is no stranger to changing leagues at the trade deadline after being dealt from the Chicago Cubs to Texas last season.
Garza (7-7, 3.74 ERA), though, has begun to settle in nicely back in the NL, particularly in his last two starts. The right-hander has gone 1-0 and allowed two runs and seven hits over 15 innings against the New York Mets and Tampa Bay, dropping his ERA since the beginning of June to 2.72.
He’s lost both of his matchups this season against the Cardinals with an 8.10 ERA, but those came in April. His four career starts in St. Louis have been even worse with an 0-2 record and 9.56 ERA with 10 walks in 16 innings.
Jhonny Peralta is 13 for 30 against Garza, Matt Holliday is 9 for 24, Matt Adams is 6 for 8 and A.J. Pierzynski is 4 for 14 with two home runs.
The Brewers (61-50) remain two games ahead of the Cardinals and 1 1/2 games up on Pittsburgh in the NL Central.
Aramis Ramirez went 3 for 4 on Saturday and is batting .526 over a five-game hitting streak. He’s batting .455 in nine games against the Cardinals this season.
Milwaukee is batting .310 with 14 runs in the series but only has a split to show for it.
"I was happy with the offense," manager Ron Roenicke said. "I thought we were patient and got some big hits."