Fantasy Impact: John Lackey to Cardinals in a Blockbuster

In Boston’s second big deal of the day, John Lackey is headed to the Cardinals in exchange for starter Joe Kelly and “outfielder” Allen Craig.

Lackey will see a sweet boost in his value in August and September, as he’ll get to avoid the DH and move into baseball’s best pitcher’s parks. Throughout his career, Lackey has feasted on the NL in interleague play, earning a 3.07 ERA in 246 innings. Lackey has stuck out 219 in those innings, leading to a WHIP of 1.18. Lackey won’t necessarily see much of a defensive boost with his new club, especially because he’s induces neither grounders nor flies at a special rate. If you’re in an NL-only league, go bid big on Lackey right now and use this unique chance to add an impact starter over the roto stretch run.

Craig, like Yoenis Cespedes, could see quite a boost moving out of a pitcher’s paradise to Fenway Park. Craig isn’t the pull hitter that Cespedes is so he won’t be able to make as much use of the Monster, but Fenway is still a better hitter’s park compared to Busch in every respect. Craig has really struggled this year, but he previously had three straight seasons with a .307 average or higher, slugging over .520 in two of them. Craig’s power production did drop last season and again this year, but it still seems like a .237 average is far too low for his skillset. ZiPS had Craig as a .267 hitter the rest of the year before he was traded, and a move to a friendly park should bump your expectations higher than that. Craig is not a good defender in the outfield, so he’ll have to hit to stay in Boston’s lineup, but odds are they’ll give him every chance to do so for the rest of 2014.

One of the other big winners of this trade is Oscar Taveras, who will have a chance to play every day in RF with Craig out of the picture. As of the trade he was widely available in Yahoo! leagues, so go snatch him up if you can.

Kelly is the one getting the raw end of this deal, as he’ll now have to compete against a DH and leave a pitcher’s paradise for a neutral park in a super tough division, though Kelly’s power sinker will help keep him out of some trouble in places like Camden Yards, Rogers Centre, and Yankee Stadium. Kelly’s career ERA of 3.25 is 75 points lower than his FIP, but he’s actually due for some positive regression this year. Unfortunately, Kelly doesn’t have the strikeout totals that we look for in fantasy starters, and his walk rate isn’t low enough to keep his WHIP low and sexy. Kelly isn’t a standard league guy outside of St. Louis, and now that he’s in a tougher division, there will also be less opportunities to stream him.

We hoped you liked reading Fantasy Impact: John Lackey to Cardinals in a Blockbuster by Zach Sanders!

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Zach is the creator and co-author of RotoGraphs' Roto Riteup series, and RotoGraphs' second-longest tenured writer. You can follow him on twitter.

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Tom B
Tom B

Exactly where in the lineup are they going to squeeze Craig?

DH Ortiz
1B Napoli
OF Cespedes Bradley Victorino


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