John Lackey, Red Sox: When we last saw John Lackey on the mound, he was struggling with elbow issues while posting a 6.41 ERA for the Red Sox in 2011. The big righthander missed all of the 2012 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery and, according to Will Middlebrooks, the 34-year-old Lackey is “in the best shape” the third baseman has ever seen him in. Sox manager John Farrell is confident Lackey will bounce back strong and pitch deep into his starts in 2013. The hope is Lackey can come closer to the 3.81 ERA he posted in his eight years with the Angels and not the 5.26 ERA he’s put up in two years in Boston.
Ivan Nova, Yankees: In 2011, the Dominican-born Nova burst on the scene and went 16-4 with a 3.70 ERA in his Yankees debut. Last season, he slumped to 12-8 with a 5.02 ERA while getting the most run support of any New York starter. The 26-year old righthander was denied a spot on the 2012 postseason roster. He will be fighting to keep his spot in 2013 with Michael Pineda and David Phelps pining for a shot in the back end of the rotation.
The edge: Red Sox. And don’t bet against John Lackey being the American League comeback player of the year.