"Big boy" games are around the corner, as the right-hander completed his inaugural regular season with the Cubs with a five-inning, one-run performance in a 6-4 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday.
"Honestly? Probably one of the better ones [seasons] of my career," Lackey said after the victory. "You look at some of those smaller ones [numbers], probably the best I've ever done."
Lackey noted that he won only 11 games, but his 1.06 WHIP was by far the lowest of his career. He gave up just 141 hits in 188 1/3 innings one year after giving up 211 hits in 218 innings. Keeping runners off the bases is about all you can ask of a starter, as even the old-school Lackey knew sabermetrics should be kind to his season.
"Whatever those numbers they made up in the last few years," he said with a smirk.
Lackey often has a smirk on his face when answering questions from reporters after a game. His get-to-the point attitude is the same way he pitches. He goes after hitters and works quickly and usually efficiently. Tuesday's game was another good example. Things slowed down after he left, but for the first five innings, there was plenty of "here you go, hit it" to the Pirates. They rarely did.
"Ready to go with whatever is next," Lackey declared after his 29th start.
Lackey did give up some home runs -- 23 this season -- but he rarely left a game without getting his team in position to win. He was uncanny in his consistency, often looking like he was about to get rocked, but six or seven innings later, he was still going. He was asked if not getting to 200 innings was a disappointment.
"I'm going to get to 200," he shot back with that smirk.
In other words, add the upcoming postseason, in which Lackey has shined throughout his career. A two-time World Series-clinching pitcher (for two different teams), Lackey feels he's more than ready for October, even though he might not pitch again for nearly two weeks.
What about a simulated game while the Cubs wait to begin the playoffs?
"I don't know about sim games," Lackey said. "I can throw a bullpen and be just fine. I don't need to see someone up there. I know how to throw it over the plate."
Vintage Lackey, on and off the field. That's the best way to sum him up in 2016. And remember, he signed with the Cubs for one reason, as he famously stated earlier this year: to win some jewelry. The next time he takes the mound, he can help his team toward that goal.
"I had some pretty good offers from some other people, and I chose this one for a reason," he said. "It's all here."