I do not want to get too much into Dennis Eckersley's Red Sox career. After all, I did just cover this part of his career a couple of months ago when he appeared in my Red Sox in Cooperstown series. Essentially, he came over from Cleveland as a young, very talented pitcher and was the ace of the staff for a couple of years early on. Then he went through some up and down years before being traded to the Cubs for Bill Buckner. Later, after becoming a terrific closer, he finished his career as a setup man for the Red Sox in 1998.
Now that we have that out of the way: 1981.
1981 was one of the tough years in Eckersley's career as a starting pitcher. He was coming off the worst season in his career to that point when he was 12-14 with a 4.28 ERA. In the strike-interrupted 1981 season, he was not much better. He finished the season with a winning record, 9-8, and his ERA was just one hundredth of a point lower at 4.27. His FIP improved from 3.87 to 3.07, but his WHIP increased from 1.174 to 1.266. It was certainly not a return to form from Eckersley, being mostly in line with his 1980 season.
From there he would improve in 1982 to the point that he was an All Star, then follow that up with a terrible 1983 season. And after starting off rough in 1984, he was traded.