Though Lackey might not be in the same echelon as these pitchers anymore, he is definitely their equal when it comes to logging innings.
"I take pride in throwing innings for sure," Lackey said. "That's something I've taken pride in my whole career. You've got to put the work in in between starts and be ready to go deep into games."
Saturday was yet another example of Lackey doing just that. The 36-year-old ate up seven innings, allowing just one run on five hits, striking out three and walking two in the Cardinals' 10-1 win over the Phillies. The run came off a Cody Asche home run in the second inning, but did not allow another extra-base hit after that.
Manager Mike Matheny said he was impressed by the way his starter approached his outing, especially with how he threw when he was ahead in the count.
"He had a couple of two-strike pitches and the one to Asche was one of those," Matheny said. "But after that, he pitched better. I think John was trusting [Yadier Molina]. He controlled counts all day long."
For the 6-foot-6 right-hander, it was the fourth time in five starts that he had thrown seven or more innings, and the eighth time this season. But Lackey's day wasn't just characterized by another strong pitching performance. He also donated a jolt to the Cardinals' offense.
Facing opposing starter Aaron Harang in the fifth inning with one out and nobody on base, Lackey laced a ball into the gap, trotting into second with a double. He stopped there and was unable to advance, but the two-bagger was his second of the year, something he said shouldn't necessarily be credited to skill.
"I showed an accident more than anything," Lackey said. "What's that two on the year? Let's not go crazy on that one."
So Lackey isn't Madison Bumgarner, the Giants pitcher renowned for his hitting as much as his pitching. But he is in the same company when it comes to innings pitched. Bumgarner's thrown 93 1/3 innings this year, Lackey's thrown 89 2/3. In between them are guys like defending NL Cy Young and MVP winner Clayton Kershaw, and two pitchers in Gerrit Cole and Shelby Miller who have sub-2.00 ERAs.
"I felt good about it for sure," he said. "I felt like I located the ball pretty good. I felt like my fastball was key because they're pretty aggressive swinging at everything counts."