A first for John Lackey

The key for John Lackey? It's been all about strike one. Once ahead, he's been lights out. AP Photo/Charles Krupa

While Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz have been the focus of the turnaround among Boston's starting pitchers, their success shouldn't be that surprising -- both are in the prime years of their careers and always had the stuff to be frontline starters. However, there is one Red Sox pitcher enjoying a career rejuvenation that wasn't so easy to see coming: The beleaguered John Lackey is pitching like it's 2005 all over again.

Lackey's first three years in Boston couldn't have gone much worse. Signed to an $82.5 million contract after the 2009 season, Lackey came to Boston in 2010 with the reputation of a reliable starter ... and started throwing batting practice. By the time he finally told everyone his elbow hurt (in mid-2011), he had accumulated a 5.25 ERA in 375 innings and then spent the next year and a half recovering from Tommy John surgery. The first three years of Lackey's Red Sox career were basically a total loss, and his personality didn't exactly endear him to the Red Sox Nation.

However, they say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, and after being away from the team for 18 months, Lackey showed up in 2013 determined to get his career back on track. It's only six starts so far, but not only is he pitching like the John Lackey of old, but he's actually pitching better than he did in his heyday in Anaheim.