Josh Beckett Rounding Into Ace Form For Red Sox


The year is 2012, which many felt would be a poor and unproductive year for Josh Beckett.  Looking back at the history of the big right-hander he struggles during the even years, eluding to the erratic speculation that this season would follow suit.  After his first start of the season in Detroit where he was shelled for 7 earned runs and 5 home runs it appeared that Beckett was headed down that long and lonely road to mediocrity.  A road that would surely prompt trade talk and rumblings that last season’s antics late in the year were too much for this club to get over.

Fast forward four starts later for Beckett and suddenly he’s finding his ace type form that saw him dominate some of the best lineups in baseball last year.  Like last season, the Texas native has been the victim of a stagnant offense when it’s his turn to take the mound resulting in no-decisions or a loss like Sunday against the White Sox, a game in which he pitched well enough to win.

Beckett had a rough first inning on Sunday and if you dig into it, he really only struggled with three batters.  Obviously the long-ball to Adam Dunn did him and the team in for the remainder of the game, that and the fact that Gavin Floyd was nearly perfect on the day, stymieing the Sox offense.  Again Beckett could only sit and watch as he did his part and the offense sputtered on a day where Floyd was brilliant.  Last season Beckett had 7 no decisions in which the offense scored 3 runs or less.  3 of those no decisions the offense scored 2 runs or less, so to say Beckett didn’t uphold his end of the bargain is a false statement.

Back to the even year curse.  In 2010, through the month of April Beckett was 1-0 with a 7.22 ERA and a WHIP of 1.74.  Three of his five outings he surrendered five runs or more and in two of those starts he never made it past the fifth inning.  He would struggle to stay healthy for the remainder of the year and when he did pitch he was anything but effective.

2012 has been a whole lot different.  Take out the game in Detroit and Josh Beckett has been the Josh Beckett that the Red Sox need him to be.  His last four starts he’s worked a combined 27.2 innings, given up 9 earned runs on 23 hits while walking 8 and striking out 21 batters.  He’s lowered his ERA on the year to a respectable 4.45 and his WHIP now sits at 1.21, bang on his career mark.

The most encouraging start was back on April 18 against the high powered Texas Rangers.  Despite taking the loss Beckett gave his club a chance to win holding the Rangers at bay, only allowing 3 earned runs over his 7 innings while scattering 7 hits.  He fanned 7 and only offered one free pass, proving he was in control all night.  Had it not been for Derek Holland again holding the then lowly Red Sox offense at bay, Beckett may have been the victor on a night when the bullpen, namely Franklin Morales let the game get too far out of reach.

With an upcoming schedule that should see Beckett square off against the Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals and Seattle Mariners in his next three starts, he could get his record above .500 and lower his ERA to the mark we are accustomed to seeing out of the 2007 ALCS MVP and 2003 World Series MVP. It will also give Beckett a chance to avoid the early inning struggles that he’s been prone to this season.

When the schedule turns considerably more difficult with 12 games against the Rays, Phillies and Tigers combined, Beckett could be in one of his famous kick-ass grooves where he mows opponents down with filthy, corner painting pitches.  It’ll be those games that will determine if this Red Sox team is a serious playoff contender and leading their charge could be none other than the former designated ‘ace’ of their staff, Josh Beckett.  Maybe then we can put the curse of the even years to bed.

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