On Monday, the Boston Red Sox placed John Lackey on the 15-day D.L. with an elbow strain. It must be a contagious arm problem.
Daisuke Matsuzaka had a similar diagnosis when he was struggling, and by all appearances, Lackey has caught the bug.
Through seven starts, Lackey's ERA stands at a bloated 8.01. He has a 1.80 WHIP and a walk rate that is just a hair less than his K rate. Four of the seven outings have ended with Lackey surrendering six earned runs or more. He's coughed up nine runs not once, but twice. In short, he's been awful.
It's far too soon to make any pronouncements about his demise, but based on what we've seen through the early part of 2011, this is not the same John Lackey who posted sub-4.00 ERAs in Los Angeles.
So what can Boston do if their supposed No. 3 starter can't turn things around? This $85 million investment was meant to shore up the middle of what looked like one of baseball's better rotations, but has instead become a major liability.
He himself won't be traded and the team can hardly afford to bench him, but Lackey could well see some of his turns skipped as the season wears on.
Here are 12 options that the Red Sox can consider moving forward, possible replacements for Lackey if the big righty is unable to get back on track.