When the Dodgers made the big blockbuster trade with the Boston Red Sox on August 25, Josh Beckett wasn’t considered a main cog of that huge trade. So when the Dodgers acquired First baseman Adrian Gonzalez, outfielder Carl Crawford, Beckett, and Infielder Nick Punto from Boston, Beckett was considered an after-thought of the trade.
The main purpose of the trade was to acquire the services of all-star Adrian Gonzalez, and to a lesser degree, the services of Carl Crawford. After all, the Dodgers needed a first baseman badly, after long time first baseman James Loney’s seemingly never-ending mediocrity began to infuriate and frustrate the Dodgers. The Dodgers also needed a left fielder and lead-off hitter, and even though we all knew Crawford was still recovering from in-season Tommy John surgery on his left elbow, that part of the trade still seemed like it made sense for the Dodgers.
But nobody ever really thought about the importance of right handed starting pitcher Josh Beckett. However, after this season, that might change.
If you remember, Beckett was a big time draft pick back in the day. The Marlins drafted him in the first round, (second overall pick), of the 1999 amateur draft. It didn’t take long for Beckett to debut in the majors. By the time he was 21, in 2001, he had already made his first MLB appearance with the Marlins.
Beckett pitched for five seasons with the Marlins before he was traded to the Red Sox. Beckett averaged about 160 whiffs, and an ERA below 3.50 in each of his five seasons with the Marlins. In 2005, he had a breakout year. That year, which was his last with the marlins, he posted a 15-8 record, 3.38 ERA, 166 whiffs, and an 8.4 whiff per nine rate.
Beckett’s big hurrah with the Fish came in the 2003 World Series. Beckett won the World Series MVP award that year, and it was deservedly so. Beckett won two games during the 2003 World Series. Beckett pitched a complete game shutout during game six against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. His second win, clinched the series victory for the Marlins in six games. After the 2005 season, Beckett was traded to the Red Sox, along with Mike Lowell, and Guillermo Mota, for Jesus Delgado, Harvey Garcia, Anibal Sanchez, and yes, Hanley Ramirez.
Beckett struggled a little bit during his first season in Boston. He posted a 16-11 record, but struggled with his pitch command. He posted an unusually high 5.01 ERA, and 74 walks in over 200 innings pitched. His walk rate per nine was 3.3, which is much higher than his career 2.7. After the 2006 season, Beckett signed a 30 million dollar three-year contract with the Red Sox. The Red Sox also gave him a 10 million dollar club option for the 2010 season.
The next season was perhaps, Beckett’s finest In Boston. The right hander learned how to rely more on his breaking pitches than his fastballs. As a result, he had a tremendous season. Beckett finished with a record of 20-7, a 3.27 ERA, 194 whiffs, and only 40 walks in 200 innings of work. Beckett posted an 8.7 whiff per nine rate, and a career low 1.8 walk per nine rate. His successful season earned him his first all-star selection, and also allowed him to finish second in the Cy Young award voting.
Beckett won his first seven starts that season in Boston, and helped the Red Sox win their division, and make it back to the postseason. Beckett earned the victory in the all-star game in 2007 for the American League by pitching two scoreless frames. He also won the 2007 ALCS MVP award after posting a 2-0 record, and a 1.93 ERA versus the Indians, as Boston eventually won the series in seven games. Beckett’s dominance that season would continue, when he would pitch Boston to victory again, this time in game one of the World Series against Colorado. He allowed just one run on six hits, while whiffing nine in that game. The Red Sox would go on to sweep Colorado, and win their second world series title in three years.
After Beckett won 17 games in 2009, while posting a 3.86 ERA, and whiffing 199 in 212 innings, and earning another all-star selection, he again had his contract extended by Boston. This time it was for 68 million dollars through the 2014 season.
In 2010, Beckett would miss significant time with a back injury, and was also involved in that weird beer drinking controversy along with two other Boston pitchers. There was also another controversy with Becket involving him playing golf when he was supposed to be hurt. After an injured 2010 season, Beckett had one final all-star season in Boston in 2011. That year he was 13-7 with a 2.89 ERA, 175 whiffs, and only 52 walks in 193 innings pitched.
Beckett was very consistent after he was traded to the Dodgers in 2012. In seven starts last season with the Boys in Blue, Beckett was 2-3 with a 2.93 ERA. He had 38 whiffs, and 14 walks, in 43 innings. That came out to an impressive 8.0 whiff per nine rate, and we all had high hopes for Beckett for 2013.
The Dodgers are hoping that Beckett can have a comeback season, and judging from his performances so far this spring, he is well on his way. Beckett is seriously impressing the Dodgers this spring, and with multiple injuries to fellow starters Zack Greinke, Chad Billingsley, and Ted Lilly, Beckett could be a very important piece to the Dodger rotation.
Beckett has made three starts this spring. He has pitched 9.1 innings, and posted a 0.93 ERA. He has allowed just one run on four hits the entire spring, while whiffing 11 and walking only three. In his last start, Beckett was impressing again, with 4.1 scoreless frames. Beckett has five pitches, and uses all of them against lefties. Beckett can reach up to 94 on both of his two-seam, and four-seam fastballs. He has a very strong curve, and a change-up, and cutter. He has also begun to work on a slider, and splitter, which he started to develop last season. Forget about the beer drinking, and the golf playing, all of that stuff is in the past. Everyone deserves a second chance, and we know Beckett is very happy to be out of Boston, and pitching in Los Angeles.
Beckett has a career record of 132-95, and an ERA of 3.91. He has a career whiff per nine rate of 8.3, and a walk rate of 2.7. He generally keeps the ball in the ball park, but what struck me the most when I saw him pitch last season, and this spring was his movement. You would have to watch him pitch to tell, but Beckett has great movement on his pitches. Some people may have reported Beckett to have lost some of that trademark movement, but let me tell you, he hasn’t lost any of it. Trust me guys, I saw him pitch last year, and after watching him in a couple of games this spring I can tell you with confidence, that he has regained that classic movement on his pitches which made him so tough to hit throughout his career.
It’s weird to think that the Dodgers may have to rely on Beckett in 2013, but with the mounting injuries to the rotation, Beckett may be a more important piece to the puzzle than previously considered. This could be a golden opportunity for Beckett to prove himself once again, as one of the more dominant starting pitchers in Baseball. He was once a World Series MVP, and three time all-star, and there is no reason to think that Beckett can’t return to his all-star form for the Dodgers. Beckett is poised to have a good season. With Birdman Zack Greinke potentially on the shelf for the first couple weeks of the season, and other injury concerns, the Dodgers may be relying on Josh Beckett more than you know this season.